Child kickboxing debated in Thailand after 13-year-old dies

BANGKOK (AP) — The death of a 13-year-old boy who was knocked out during a kickboxing match in Thailand has sparked debate over whether to ban matches involving children.

The death of Anucha Tasako came after a Muay Thai — Thai boxing — match Saturday in the Bangkok suburb of Samut Prakan. The Facebook page Muaythai Krobwongjorn, which covers the sport, said he died from a brain hemorrhage. Protective gear is normally not worn in the sport, and video circulated on social media said to be of the fight shows Anucha not wearing any.

Child boxing is widespread in Thailand, especially in rural areas, where it offers a way for children to help provide for their families and a path to lift them out of poverty, according to its advocates. Opponents say the sport is dangerous, citing studies such as one published last month by Thailand's Mahidol University saying that allowing children under 15 to box could result in various types of brain damage.

18 PHOTOS
Boxing fever grips children in Thailand
See Gallery
Boxing fever grips children in Thailand
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Methas Charojram (C), 7, who is a child boxer, prepares for his Thai boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. Picture taken February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw
Nanthawat Pomsod (C), 11, who is a child boxer, fights Kritthonglek Sitkritthongkam (L) during a boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. Picture taken February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw
Wutthichai Inthawimon (R), 9, who is a child boxer, prepares for his Thai boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. Picture taken February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw
Nanthawat Pomsod, 11, who is a child boxer, fights Kritthonglek Sitkritthongkam during a boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. Picture taken February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw
Wutthichai Inthawimon, 9, who is a child boxer, prepares for his Thai boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. Picture taken February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Thai boys take part in a boxing match over a pool of water during Children's Day in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat on January 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MADAREE TOHLALA (Photo credit should read MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Thai boys take part in a boxing match over a pool of water during Children's Day in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat on January 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MADAREE TOHLALA (Photo credit should read MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2016/12/15: Children from age of 5-18 attending a Thai boxing school in central Bangkok. Thai boxing known as Muay Thai is a traditional and national sport for Thailand. Many parents encourage their children to pick up Muay Thai training program from young age. (Photo by Alda Tsang/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2014/12/28: A young Muay Thai boxers warm up before a fight at king Taksin's birthday celebration in Bangkok. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2014/12/28: A young Muay Thai boxers prepares before a fight at king Taksin's birthday celebration in Bangkok. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2014/12/28: A young Muay Thai boxer resting and getting coached between rounds in his corner during a fight at king Taksin's birthday celebration in Bangkok. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Thai lawmakers are considering legislation proposed last month banning children under 12 from competitive boxing. The legislation has been forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which has already drafted a revised version, said Gen. Aduldej Intapong, a member of the National Legislative Assembly.

Kickboxing is one of the most popular sports in Thailand and its boosters oppose regulating it.

"This would have a major impact on the industry," Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents several boxing training camps, said of the proposed legislation. "Those who drafted the law do not know anything about the sport of Thai boxing, and this would make Muay Thai become extinct."

"If you don't allow younger players to learn their way up, how can they be strong and experienced enough to fight?" he said. "We call it 'boxing bones.' You need to have boxing bones built from a very young age."

Sukrit said the death of the 13-year-old, who fought under the name Petchmongkol S. Wilaitong, was a one-off incident and the result of a poorly organized event.

"This has never happened before and it's unprecedented," he said. "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."

Public television station ThaiPBS reported that Anucha had fought more than 170 matches since he began boxing at the age of 8, and was currently fighting in the under 41 kilogram (under 90 pound) weight division. It said he was raised by his uncle, who is a boxing trainer, after his parents separated.

The uncle, Damrong Tasako, told Thai PBS that Anucha's death was an accident but he would like to see regulations for children under 15 to wear protective gear to soften blows to the head and body.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.