Child Boxing in Thailand

AJS Thailand Child Boxing 01

This was a tough assignment, photographing child boxers in the poor outskirts of Bangkok. Not tough because of access or subject matter or anything like that. Tough in a different way. Tough showing what it was really like without falling into classic cliches of poor youths quite literally fighting to survive in a harsh unforgiving environment. Because while it was certainly that to a certain extent, it was also so much more. Muay Thai is for all intents and purposes a sacred sport and art in Thailand: graceful and disciplined and beautiful and savage, much like the country itself. It’s an honor to fight, and while it attracts poor youths much more so than those born with gilded golden spoons in their mouths, it isn’t only for their dreams of making it big and getting out and all those other big words and phrases that have captured the world’s imagination on more than just a few occasions. It’s also done out of the pure love, the sheer joy, the absolute simplicity of it all. Muay Thai is Thailand as much as anything else. From youths onwards. And so really, this is just the beginning.

AJS Thailand Child Boxing 02
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 03
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 04
A portrait of Boonsong Samrong outside of his home and gym in Rayong, Thailand.
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 06
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 07
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 08
The crowd and gamblers at Thepprasit Boxing Stadium in Pattaya, Thailand.
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 10
AJS Thailand Child Boxing 11

11 thoughts on “Child Boxing in Thailand

  1. I think it’s difficult for many of us in the West to imagine cultures in which poverty is so common that children would view hitting the tar out of each other as an opportunity to get ahead. This does indeed look like a tough assignment in many ways — but I think you’ve succeeded brilliantly in telling a complete, multidimensional story. (For my part, the third frame from the bottom tells it all: A bunch of adults betting on and profiting from children doing each other harm.) Beautifully done.

  2. *Pensamento do dia*

    *07/06/2016*

    * *

    *de:everson camnpos*

    *O Mal da ignorância.*

    *tomou conta da consciência dos homens*

    *Em sua maioria, não evoluídos com tempo:*

    *privam e desrespeitam os direitos alheios*

    *Impondo suas vontade em função de sua fisiologia*

    *Fazendo valer suas necessidades, *

    *Não se importando com as vaidade alheia*

    *Enquanto a humanidade tropeçar em obstáculos*

    *atribulado como: a uma (religião)*

    *Os parâmetros da verdade*

    *continuara estabelecendo atributos a antigos preceitos *

    *(profecias)*

    *Em que Mitos inspiravam a recorrência, a endeusados inventados.*

    *Devido a falta de conhecimento mais avançado e atual , *

    *a intolerância faz da violência, uma arma, *

    *contra aquelas,*

    *que se julgam serem pessoas de bem.*

  3. Wow. Tough gig, but you summed up the story so eloquently calling it “graceful and disciplined and beautiful and savage.” My son has taken up boxing and although I viewed his decision with trepidation, I have learnt through him the skills and techniques needed to get out there in order not to risk a belting.

  4. Nice pictures. Thankfully times are changing, so people are now viewing Muay Thai as a white collar sport. More opportunities for child fighters to work as fighters after their fighting careers are over.

  5. These are fantastic photographs; thanks for sharing. While I was living and fighting in Thailand, I heard a lot Westerner’s voicing their concern for child fighters, saying that it was appalling and inhumane, and that it was terrible that these boys were ‘forced’ into hitting each other. As you stated at the beginning, and as your images demonstrate, for most little boys and girls, this is seldom the case. Thanks for giving such a nice glimpse into Muay Thai culture.

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