Rithy Emma, ​​a French athlete with a Khmer heart, displayed all the courage of the Kingdom’s finest warriors in her Saturday night defeat of dangerous Iranian fighter Nazanin Hoseini. In the same Channel 5 event, returning great Lek Vibol knocked out Lao fighter Chhangfasit in the second round to claim victory in his first comeback match since his retirement some 20 years ago. Emma narrowly escaped being knocked out in round one of the match, suffering terrible wounds before coming back to claim victory. In round one of her June 15 match – her first with raw wraps instead of gloves – Emma attempted to trade punches with Hoseini, but got the worst of the exchange, taking an estimated 20 blows to the face. She was stunned, and forced to endure a standing count. Immediately after the referee judged that she could continue, worse was to come when her Iranian opponent landed a massive elbow strike, opening a massive cut in Emma’s right eyebrow. However, in the second round, Emma was able to find a way through Hoseini’s defences. The Iranian tired and was no longer able to keep her guard up. Emma landed a flurry of punches and elbows, knocking Hoseini to the canvas where she remained, stunned, as the referee counted her out. “After the first round, I was afraid I would be knocked out, but my coach instructed me to keep my hands up. Always listen to your teacher! I was really happy to take the win,” she said. The cut above her eye required five stitches, and she was left battered, with numerous marks on her face. Despite this, she claimed she was okay, and ready to fight again soon. “I am fine, and I am not seriously injured”, she added. Many Khmer martial arts fans expressed their sympathy for the bruised fighter, with several transferring money as a show of support for the French athlete, who uses her own time and money to train in Kun Khmer and represent the kingdom’s traditional fighting style. She took to social media to express her feelings, assuring people that she does not fight for money. “I thank everyone who sent me money through ABA, but please keep your cash. I do not fight for financial rewards – I fight to show the world what Kun Khmer is all about. I love it, although my heart cannot explain it,” she said. “You guys give me so much love, so much support and it’s priceless. I don't want my Khmer brothers and sisters to think that they have to send me money. Again, thank you everyone for the money you gave me but please if you don't have much money keep it for yourself,” she added. The other big story of the night was the triumphant return of former champion Vibol. Despite having been away from the ring for 20 years, his technique remained formidable, with his Lao opponent succumbing to his kicks in the second round. He landed so many kicks to the legs of Chhangfasit that the referee was forced to impose a count twice early in round two of the bout. A third knockdown before the round was over saw the veteran’s arms raised in victory as the fight was awarded to him. “The fighter from Laos was good, but I was able to beat him with my kicking technique. I was honestly unsure if I would have the skills to be competitive because I have been away from the ring for so long, said Vibol. He revealed that his return was prompted by feelings of missing the Channel 5 arena, where he was once awarded a gold shirt after remaining undefeated for a three-year period. At the same time, he assured his fans he would train harder ahead of his next match. “I hope the next bout will be even better than this one, because I am still carrying a little belly fat. I will train harder so I will be in better shape next time,” he said. The other four international friendlies staged by Channel 5 on Saturday night, saw strong results, with strongman Moeun Sokhuch forcing Russian fighter Alexsandr to give up early in the second round. Him Kim Rieng also claimed victory, defeating Chinese boxer Lu Zuoxiang in the first round. Viet Bundoeun held Zuoxiang’s compatriot Jiang Chengbao to a draw, while the only Cambodian loss of the night saw Thanu Reach beaten by Laotian Sutee Mongkolphet on points.