Child Boxing In Thailand Continues With Little Protection.
While parents in Canada are taking measures to protect children from head injuries in sports like hockey and football, in Thailand little has changed since the death of 13-year-old Anucha Thasako in Thai boxing. Thasako was a scrawny teen who died in 2018 during a boxing match after several blows to the head. While doctors tried to save his life he had suffered a major brain hemorrhage. He had been a professional boxer since the age of 8 and competed in over 170-lifetime fights.
The footage of the death fight found online created outrage and the government vowed to pass new laws that would restrict the age of boxers and create the need for head protection. Participants and fans though protested loudly and the government has backed down. Thai boxing is a popular spectator sport and industry with a significant bet placed on the outcome of matches.
Children participating in a match receive 300-500 baht ($15-20 Cdn). This seems to be little compensation according to doctors who detail the Thai boxing (muay thai) involves using the ‘art of 8 limbs.’ This involves punching, kicking, kneeing and elbowing. Doctors in Thailand that have studied muay thai found that young participants have stunted development with lower intelligence and a potential risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. A lead author on studies Mr. Jiraporn Laothamatas considers that child Thai boxing a form of child abuse that benefits trainers, promoters, bookies, and poor parents, but not the children.
The tourism association of Thailand actively promotes Thai boxing. Many prime seats at events are sold to Western tourists looking for a bit of Thai culture and life. Many tourists have said they did not know the children could be a young as 8, but when you see the weight categories such as under 41kg, they must have an inkling.