A 13-year-old boxer has died during a charity bout. This has resulted in grief and outburst of anger in several quarters in Thailand and calls for a ban on fights between children in the brutal Muay Thai martial art.
Thai boxing is hugely popular in the country and many fighters enter the sport at a young age in search of fame and fortune.
But the involvement of kids who sometimes start under 10 years of age in bouts that use kicks and elbows to the head — often without headguards — has stirred frequent criticism.
More so as the young fighters are often family breadwinners from poor families and bouts are subject to frenzied ringside gambling.
Anucha Tasako collapsed after his opponent delivered several blows to his head at a bout in Samut Prakan province, near Bangkok, on November 10.
Smartphone footage shown by local media captured the grim moment he hit the canvas as assistants quickly rushed into the ring to help the motionless Anucha, who fought under the alias Phetmongkol Sor Wilaithong.
He later died from a brain haemorrhage, according to police.
Domestic media said he had been fighting since he was eight and had competed in more than 150 bouts.
His opponent, Nitikron Sonde, is around the same age, police said. He took to Facebook to express his sorrow at the death.
“I regret it,” he posted on Tuesday, “but I have to do my duty to win so I can make enough money to sponsor myself through education.”