Sandra Hoyn - The Fighting Children
"Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. Around the world, it is respected as one of the most demanding and intense martial arts. For one thing, Muay Thai is referred to as the Art of Eight Limbs because it involves striking one’s opponent using hands, elbows, knees and shins rather than just hands (and feet).
Many people with limited economic opportunities choose (are forced?) to earn their living from the sport. Thus, muay matches between children begin at the age of six. These bouts are popular with tourists and Thai bettors alike, making them a part of everyday life.
There is no minimum age for muay fighters. Two or three times a month—when other children might be playing soccer or learning to play the piano—these children are fighting for a pittance and pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits.
Very few of them will ever become rich, popular boxing idols. Even if they do find success in the ring, their careers will likely be over at the age of 25.”