Fighting into the Middle Class

Young+Muay+Thai+fighters+in+a+match+at+Thepprasit+Boxing+Stadium+in+Pattaya%2C+Thailand.
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Fighting into the Middle Class

Young Muay Thai fighters in a match at Thepprasit Boxing Stadium in Pattaya, Thailand.

Young Muay Thai fighters in a match at Thepprasit Boxing Stadium in Pattaya, Thailand.

Aaron Joel Santos

Young Muay Thai fighters in a match at Thepprasit Boxing Stadium in Pattaya, Thailand.

Aaron Joel Santos

Aaron Joel Santos

Young Muay Thai fighters in a match at Thepprasit Boxing Stadium in Pattaya, Thailand.

Lily Flynn, Journalist

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Ever since parents in Thailand started to struggle with keeping up with money, their kids have been there to provide. How do they help? Kids have been starting to box for a salary of 60$ (which is almost a half months salary). This is the same salary their parents earn from farming rice. The events mostly take place in Bangkok, a large city known for ornate shrines and spectacular street life.

The fighters train and work hard every day to prepare for their next fights. Their schedule for training consists of a 10 kilometer run at 4:30 AM, and after a quick breakfast of soft boiled eggs, they join the others at the punching bags.

The ages vary while organizing the fights, which means the fighters can be younger than 10 years old. Tourists and other fellow people from the crowd bet, while the children ‘brutally’ fight. The fights can be dangerous, and some can even grant kids harsh injury’s or even death. Actually, Thailand is calling a ban to child boxing, raising the age limit to 12 years old, after a 13 year old boy was killed fighting an older opponent. But at the same time, if boxing is dangerous enough to be banned why is the age limit only 12? The article states the boy to be at least 13 years old, so it doesn’t make sense for the limit to be twelve. These kids are simply trying to get their families out of poverty, mostly because Thailand is also in a lot of poverty due to industrialization causing economic growth and a lot of (you already know) poverty.

A lot of doctors have been against the fights, even if the limit is 12. “It’s child labor and child abuse,” Says Dr. Jiraporn, a neuroradiologist. The year before, she revealed a seven year study on child boxing, and how it has an affect to children’s brains. The study also shows a drop in IQ and brain function. She also continues saying, “These kids earn,” and “They feed their families and their promoters with their winning. We are destroying our children for sport.”

There are also other fellow fighters that are disagreeing with people like Jiraporn. Dr. Sudhaichai Chokekijchai, a doctor for professional boxers is concerned with the limit as well, but not exactly for the same purpose as Dr. Jiraporn. “This will destroy Muay Thai,” He says. “We should be focused on prevention instead of pushing kids away. They are fighting for their lives.” He states that pushing the age limit to 12 will destroy the culture of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and less people will be able to compete and bring food to their families tables. A lot of the people like Dr. Sudhaichai Chokekijchai argue that boxing is safe, with the help of headgear that helps the kids prevent brain damage, concussions, etc. “This would have a major impact on the industry,” Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents several boxing training camps  “Those who drafted the law do not know anything about the sport of Thai boxing, and this would make Muay Thai become extinct.” he continues. Sukrit said the death of the 13-year-old, (Anucha Tasako) was a one-off incident and the result of a poorly organized event.

A Thai television station reports that Anucha had fought over 170 fights since he was as young as the age of eight. He also had the weight of 41 kilograms, (about to 90 pounds) and was very light for the age of 13. Anucha had been trained and raised by his uncle who looked after him ever since his parents were divorced.

Arguments are still going, but as for now, the age limit for Muay Thai boxing is twelve. Until Thailand comes across this issue, it will remain that way.

 

sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/morganhartley/2013/06/10/the-brutal-business-of-child-boxing-in-thailand/#43ed65bf5364

https://upfront.scholastic.com/issues/2018-19/031119/fighting-for-their-lives.html#1120L

http://www.cleveland19.com/2018/11/13/thailand-child-boxing-debated-after-year-old-death/