Girls fighting for survival: Two barefoot boxers are sweating and dodging, kicking and punching each other to the head and stomach in a lit-up stadium. A roaring crowd of men who have bet large sums is urging them on, and in the fighters’ corners after each round, their entourages hurl instructions: ”Use your right fist to stab!”, ”turn and kick!” and ”you can’t lose!”. They are among an estimated 30,000 children who fight professionally in Muay Thai child boxing tournaments in Thailand. Two of the girls, Stam and Pet, are the focus of a new documentary, “Buffalo Girls” [Read Full Story].
Before you judge the parents of these two girls, read the full article first. On the surface it seems to be child abuse as the family of these girls are using them to buy material goods. But Muay Thai is very much part of the Thai culture and for many families, it is a way for them to get themselves out of poverty. It is very well for us to get on our high horse and tell them that this bloody sport must stop. But, what is the alternative? We cannot take away one method of escape for them without replacing it with something else. Anyway, as @macarthy pointed out to me on Twitter, even in the UK they have Muay Thai fight clubs for kids.
Buffalo Girls: Their faces beam with youthful innocence. Like other young children, they laugh and play, in spite of their hardscrabble existence. But on Saturday nights in rural villages throughout central Thailand, some of the nation’s 30,000 child boxers enter the ring, where their tiny fists, elbows, knees and feet fly, pummeling one another in pursuit of prize money as strangers, neighbors, and even their own families, wager on the outcome. Is it exploitation, empowerment or economic necessity?
You can watch the trailer on youtube here.
Strictly Baby Fight Club: This powerful documentary offers a rare insight into children’s Thai boxing, which is one of the fastest growing martial arts in the UK, with over 500 registered clubs. Children as young as four or five are becoming the latest recruits to organised fighting, where some people’s attitude is that if you’re good enough to fight, you’re old enough. The programme follows five primary school children (Channel 4 UK).