BANGKOK -Thai nine-year-old Pornpattara “tata” kickboxer Peachaurai is looking forward to coming back in this ring after a stop in its combat season over five months ago was made by coronavirus curbs. His money is vital to his family’s income.
“All the money from boxing, the regular payment and the tips, it all goes to mum,” said the lean young fighter.
“I’m proud to be a boxer and to earn money for my mum.”
Tata’s last fight was in October, before a second Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand shut down sports events as bans on large gatherings were reimposed.
“I cannot box. I haven’t practiced boxing, too … I help my mum sell things.”In the National Youth Team, Tata lives with Poomrapee, the mother and sixteen year-old sister. Tata is also boxer.
As a way out of poverty and hope that the family can become a professional Muay Thai fighter or represent the police or the army in the ring and receive more ranks and bonuses, Tata’s profits are banking.“He usually gives his income to mum,” said Tata’s mother, Sureeporn Eimpong, 40.
“Sometimes he asks for some toys after a fight.”
Child struggles are as popular in Thailand as adult struggles and take place at tournaments, festivals and fairs. According to the Professional Boxing Association of Thailand, there are approximately 300,000 boxers under age 15.
Some medical experts call for a ban on boxing for minors, although it may lead to slow growth, neurological problems of long-term duration, brain damage and disability.
The only current requirement for child boxers is parental consent.“I’m not worried about boxing,” said Sureeporn, adding that boxers were trained to protect themselves.
“There are not a lot of injuries in child boxing. I am confident in the system.”
The system never works, however.
In 2018, Tata competed in the same tournament in which a 13-year-old child was knocked out of a brain hemorrhage. The arbiter was too slow to interfere with Sureeporn said.
Adisak Plitponkarnpim is a member of a research team that scans brain on a size of 250 child boxers, some of them having significant damaging consequences for brain development and level of intelligence. Thai children are the directors of the National Institute of Child and Family Development at Mahidol University.
“Boxing creates brain injury as we can see clearly in the older boxers,” Adisak said.
“The parents who rely for income from their kids at the age of eight or nine years old should ask themselves what they are actually demanding from them.”Thai legislators tried to ban boxing for under the age of twelve. However, a draft proposal could not reach parliament and would probably have been resisted by the popularity and revenue generated by child strife.
Boxing was the life of her son, Sureeporn said.“I’m from the lower class and I just make enough money to survive and don’t have savings or fancy homes,” she said.
“The future of Tata is in boxing.”
Source: The Straits Times