Last July, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, middleweight champion Rich Franklin and UFC Ring girl Rachelle Leah when to Iraq on a goodwill tour.Â The UFC published an article about the trip that I thought I would share extracts from.Â Â Â
(Besides, it was a great excuse to show pictures of the knockout Rachelle Leah.Â If you want pictures ofÂ Randy or Rich, go find them yourself, this is my article :->Â )Â
You can read the complete story at http://www.ufc.com/index.cfm?fa=news.Detail&gid=3051
Leaving Las Vegas on July 25 at 12:20pm, the UFC crew didnâ€™t arrive in Kuwait until 10:30pm on July 26. The immediate first impression was the heat, which was estimated at around 135 degrees. Yes, 135.
â€œIt was brutal heat,â€ said Leah. â€œAnd these guys are wearing long sleeve camos with helmets and body armor. And theyâ€™ve got boots on. Itâ€™s literally hell over there. Seeing what these guys are going through over there really is a humbling experience. When I got home, I said I will never complain about the heat in Vegas again.â€
â€œThese guys that are working over there are putting in 15-20 hour days sometimes,â€ middleweight champion Rich Franklin explained, â€œand oftentimes their schedules are thrown off, and they go hours on end without eating because of work.â€
After Kuwait, the tour would hit the Iraqi cities of Tikrit, Tal Afar, Kirkuk, and Mosul. Each dayâ€™s activities would vary, but staples of each cityâ€™s visit would be Q&A and autograph sessions, as well as meet and greets with the soldiers.
â€œWe did Q&As, we went to different battalion headquarters at each base, and ate lunch with the troops,â€ said Franklin. â€œI would purposely sit down in an open space so that there were chairs around me where people could come sit down and sometimes I would sit down in a group of guys and try to have lunch with the troops as much as possible.â€
â€œThey recognized that weâ€™re willing to put our butts on a plane and take time out to fly over there and meet them where theyâ€™re working, see what they do, listen to what they have to say, and put forth that effort, outside of the typical celebrity thatâ€™s either speaking out against the war or says they support the troops, but wouldnâ€™t get on a plane and go to a warzone,â€ said Couture. â€œAnd the comment was made to us on several occasions that â€˜we canâ€™t believe you guys actually came over here. Thank you so much, you made my year.â€™ Most of those guys are over there for 12 month deployments away from their families and their children. So I had the feeling that they were very excited that we went over and it gave them something to talk about and something to think about other than the day to day grind.â€
Make sure you see all sixÂ photos attached to this article.Â