13-Year-Old Boy Dies After Getting KO’d in Thai Kickboxing Match, Fueling Debate Over Children’s Bouts

Young Muay Thai boxers fight in Buriram, Thailand in 2012.

The death of a 13-year-old boy has sparked fierce debate over whether child boxing should be banned in Thailand.

Anucha Tasako died on Saturday after being knocked out in a Muay Thai—a boxing-esque martial art that originated in Thailan in the Bangkok suburb of Samut Praka.

According to Muaythai Krobwongjorn, a Facebook page that covers the sport, the teenager died after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

The Associated Press reported that a video circulating on social media, which reportedly contained footage from the fight, showed Tasako was not wearing any protective gear. Stepping in the ring without any protection is common practice for Muay Thai fighters.

In other countries, however, children wear protective gear for heads and legs, as well as boxing gloves.

“This has never happened before and it’s unprecedented,” Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents a number of boxing training camps, was quoted as saying by AP.

“There are several factors involved which have nothing to do with age. The referee wasn’t quick enough to stop the fight and the venue didn’t have a doctor on standby, which shouldn’t happen.”

Tasako’s uncle, Damrong Tasako, told TV station Thai PBS that his nephew’s death was an accident. However, he suggested he would like to see authorities make the use of protective gear compulsory for fighters under 15 years of age.

Muay Thai and other combat sports, such as boxing and kickboxing, are extremely popular in the country— even among kids.

Among poorer communities, the sports are seen as offering children a path out of poverty as well as the opportunity to contribute financially to their families.

However, the tradition is facing growing criticism and last month legislation aimed at banning children under 12 years of age from competitive boxing was put forward by Thai lawmakers.

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SOURCE: Newsweek – Dan Cancian