BANGKOK — The tourism and sports minister said Tuesday that the ministry would consider proposing stronger restrictions on minor boxing after a 13-year-old boy died following a knock-out during a weekend Muay Thai match.
Veerasak Kowsurat said the ministry would consider supporting the amendment of the 1999 Boxing Act that would set a minimum age for boxing matches, adding that it would push the matter to the cabinet as soon as possible.
The boy was knocked unconscious Saturday during the third round of a match, causing a brain hemorrhage from which he didn’t recover. He remained unconscious until he died Monday.
The boy and his 14-year-old rival wore no protective headgear. The match, held in Samut Prakan province, southeast of Bangkok, was an anti-drug charity bout with trophies supported by junta deputy leader Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan.
This incident led to renewed calls on restrictions to be imposed after research by Mahidol University showed last month that children boxers scored lower on IQ tests after receiving blows to the head. Those in the boxing circles were raising funds Tuesday to donate to the boy’s family by auctioning boxing shorts among others.
Pro-boxing Facebook Page Muay Thai Krobwongchorn, or Full-Circle Thai Boxing, expressed its condolences to the boy’s family in a Monday night post with a photo of the boxer in hospital breathing through a ventilator.
One comment on the post questioned why the referee did not stop the fight when it became clear that the boy could not take further blows.
On Monday, the same day the boy died, hundreds from the boxing business – including well-known boxers – held a gathering and a hearing critical of the proposed amendment made by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.
Sukrit Praekrithawej, chairman of Lawyers for Boxers Club, said the proposed amendment is contrary to the “long-held tradition” and the reality of the boxing environment. The amendment seeks to ban competitive boxing for children below 12 and to require that 15 years olds wear protective gear and seek permission from authorities before each match.
Sukrit said such move limits the rights of sports personnel to develop their body, deprives people from their profession and prevents 300,000 children from earning extra income.
In Thailand, it is common for boys from poor rural backgrounds to start boxing from early on, with many beginning aged as young as five.
The news on the boy’s death came the same day a young muay Thai boxer – an 11-year-old girl – made headlines for her filial piety, fighting in the ring to earn 300 baht to 500 baht a bout to help support her poor family. The sixth grader from Ratchaburi province reportedly earns extra cash by collecting rubbish and taking neighbor’s dogs and cats to see the veterinarian.
The child said she has been fighting for money for two years because her family is poor and her parents must pay for her other siblings, adding that she thought she is doing good.
Her father, Krittapas Pawutinand, said he used to be a chauffeur but had been unemployed for five years because nobody wants to hire drivers over 35.
“Sometimes I pity my daughter because opponents are physically bigger. She is often 3 to 5 kilograms lighter. Sometimes she can fight, other times she can’t, but her heart is a fighting one and she has twice knocked down larger opponents,” Krittapas said.