13-year-old tragically dies after being knocked out in kickboxing match
A 13-year-old boy in Thailand sadly died this weekend after being knocked out during a kickboxing match. Anucha Tasako, who had been practising martial arts since he was just eight years old, was not wearing a protective helmet during his Muay Thai match on Saturday.
"Muaythai Krobwongjorn", a Facebook page which covers the sport, said that the boy died from a brain haemorrhage sustained from force to the head.
Other pages also shared video footage of the match in question, and the brutality of it has prompted a huge debate over whether or not minors should be allowed to compete in the sport.
Unfortunately, child boxing is hugely popular in Thailand, and thus many people are against a ban.
In rural areas especially, kickboxing is encouraged for young children as it's seen as a route out of poverty for struggling families. Meanwhile, critics of the sport say that the risk of injury is not worth it. In fact, one study published last month by Thailand’s Mahidol University found that children who partook in boxing before the age of 15 were more likely to sustain brain damage.
Lawmakers are already considering banning kids under 12 from competing in the sport - but that still would not have saved the life of Anucha Tasako.
Still, it would have a significant effect on Muay Thai boxing - and not everybody is happy about that.
"[A ban for minors] would have a major impact on the industry," said, Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents several boxing training camps. "Those who drafted the law do not know anything about the sport of Thai boxing, and this would make Muay Thai become extinct."
He continued: "If you don’t allow younger players to learn their way up, how can they be strong and experienced enough to fight? We call it ‘boxing bones.’ You need to have boxing bones built from a very young age."
Parekrithawet also argued that the young teen's death in this instance was an extremely rare occurrence, and so should not have any bearing on changes in the law.
"This has never happened before and it’s unprecedented," he said. "There are several factors involved which have nothing to do with age. The referee wasn’t quick enough to stop the fight and the venue didn’t have a doctor on standby, which shouldn’t happen."
Still, this at least suggests that the sport needs far stronger regulations than it already has.
A TV station in Thailand reported that 13-year-old Tasako was fairly experienced in the sport, too, having fought more than 170 matches in his five years competing. He was part of the "under 41 kilogram (90 pound)" weight division.
Reports also said that he was raised by his uncle, Damrong Tasako, who is a boxing trainer.
Tasako told reporters that Tasako’s death was completely unintentional, but also that he would be in favour of regulations that required young competitors to wear protective gear in order to prevent further fatalities or severe injuries.