In Thailand, the practice of underage boxing is rampant. ‘Muay Thai’, which is a hallowed style of kickboxing, is practised by both the rich and the poor, reports The New York Times. For the poor, it is a means to fight poverty and help their families sustain themselves. Boys as young as 9-years-old participate in this despite there being a huge risk of brain injuries, often leading to deaths.
The story of 9-year-old Pornpattara ‘Tata’ Peachaurai is one that is heartbreaking. after a 5-month long break due to the pandemic, Tata cannot wait to enter the ring again because he needs to sustain his family. According to The Tribune, all of the money that he earns from fights goes to his mother entirely.
His family depends on him to fight poverty and hopes that one day, Tata will become a professional Muay Thai fighter or will be able to join the army. His 16-year-old sister is also a boxer.
“My mum told me if I continue boxing like my sister, one day I can afford to buy her a house, a car, and earn more money for her,” Tata said.
Till now, Tata has fought 20 fights – winning 15 and losing 5. In 2018, he was in the same fight where a 13-year-old fighter lost his life because of a brain haemorrhage.
However, Tata’s mother, who sells snacks on the roadside, says, “I’m not worried about boxing. There are not a lot of injuries in child boxing. I am confident in the system.”
But reports suggest otherwise.
During the pandemic, when most people were poverty-struck, Tata’s family managed to survive from the savings which came from his earnings.
Here’s a video capturing his journey:
Dr. Jiraporn Laothamatas, a neuroradiologist, calls this practice “child labour and child abuse”. In her research on the brains of child boxers, she found a steady drop in their IQ and brain function.
“We are destroying our children for sport,” she said.
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