Two nine-year-old fighters are seen participating in a brutal three-round Muay Thai match, a martial art and combat sport from Thailand. Muay Thai is known for powerful striking techniques, which incorporate punches, kicks, elbows, knee strikes, clinching and grappling and has led to the death of several young boxers.
Many young boxers participate in the sport to earn money for their families, raising serious concerns about children’s rights and exploitation. Research shows that child boxing can have negative long-term effects, including memory loss, impaired cognitive function, and a higher risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma.
In 2003, Thailand adopted the Child Protection Act, which mandates that child fighters must wear protective gear and prohibits them from fighting to financially support their families. Child rights advocates claim this law is vague and poorly enforced.