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Boxing fever grips Thailand’s boys but doctors raise health concerns

BURIRAM, Thailand (Reuters) – Loud cheers erupt as two boys commerce punches at a boxing ring in Thailand’s northeastern province of Buriram.

After dominating 5 rounds, the winner is said; 11-year-old Nanthawat Promsod, who is best recognized by his boxing identify – “Super Big Saksandee”.

He earned three,000 baht ($94.34) for successful the combat, and earns 1,500 baht ($47.17) for every match-up that he takes half in.

He is certainly one of a minimum of 10 boxers aged 15 or much less within the district of Satuk, the place practically each village has a boxing camp.

“Muay Thai”, or Thai boxing, is alleged to be 2,000 years outdated. Known as “The Art of Eight Limbs”, it makes intensive use of elbows, fingers, knees and toes.

Thailand’s nationwide sport is more and more common abroad too but on this Southeast Asian nation it could present a manner out of poverty, as those that climb to the highest of the game can earn some huge cash.

The nation’s rural northeast is house to most star boxers who’ve gone on to win worldwide recognition, equivalent to welterweight Buakaw Banchamek, a two-time Okay-1 World MAX champion.

Hailing from Surin province, Buakaw, 35, began preventing when he was eight years outdated, and gained his first worldwide kickboxing event in 2004 in Tokyo.

Nanthawat Pomsod, 11, who’s a toddler boxer, fights Kritthonglek Sitkritthongkam throughout a boxing match at a temple in Buriram province, Thailand, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Prapan Chankeaw

Nanthawat needs to observe in his footsteps.

“I want to become a champion,” mentioned Nanthawat, who has had 40 fights over a two-year profession and in current months has gained greater than 10 consecutive fights. “I will be proud if I win at least one championship belt.”

But as extra Thai kids, even some preschoolers, flock to Muay Thai, physicians and youngsters’s rights our bodies warn the game might trigger persistent health issues, equivalent to neurological issues.

Jiraporn Laothamatas, a neuroradiologist and director of Thailand’s Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Center (AIMC), mentioned a five-year research she performed confirmed patterns of mind harm and reminiscence loss in younger fighters, in comparison with non-boxing friends.

“There’s no safe boxing, because you can see that when even adult boxers get old, they also get Parkinson’s disease because of the brain damage caused,” Jiraporn mentioned.

More than 10,000 Muay Thai fighters are youthful than 15, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) mentioned final yr. But specialists say that determine might be 20 instances larger as a result of not all youngster boxers are registered.

Still, some dad and mom and trainers argue that Muay Thai teaches kids self-discipline and is a beneficial supply of revenue.

“The money Nanthawat earns from boxing, we save for him,” mentioned his father and coach, Ong-arj Promsod, 36. “Whenever we are short of money, I give him that money as daily allowance for school.”

Reporting by Prapan Chankaew; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Clarence Fernandez and Neil Fullick

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