By THE NATION
The 41-pound (18.5 kilogram) Mathayom 1 schoolboy Anucha Thasako, who fought under the alias Phetchmongkol Sor Wilaithong, was knocked out cold in Round 3 by his opponent and rushed to the hospital in Phra Pradaeng district.
Diagnosed with a severe intracerebral hemorrhage, Anucha was passed on to the better-equipped Samut Prakan Hospital. But it was too late and the boy succumbed to the injury.
A video clip of the boy’s final match, showing him and his opponent fighting without protective headgear, was posted online. They were competing for trophies from Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan as part of an anti-drugs campaign from November 9 to 11.
Anucha, who had been a muay thai boxer from the age of eight and competed in 170 matches, had lost his parents and was being brought up by his uncle.
The uncle Damrong Thasako, 48, said the boy had taken up boxing to pay for his schooling and to help out with household expenses.
Nitikron Sonde, Anucha’s young opponent, said he was following his instincts and did not know his punches would kill someone.
“I had never wanted this to happen. I am sad, but when in the boxing ring, I had to do my best. If I was weak, it would have been me who was attacked,” he said.
The victor and other winning boxers have decided to auction off their boxing shorts to raise funds for Anucha’s family. Nitikron also said he would get ordained as a novice monk in dedication to Anucha.
This death has taken place at a time when the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is trying to push through a bill prohibiting children under 12 from muay thai.
“I will forward this draft to the Cabinet for review as soon as possible,” Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said yesterday.
As per schedule, the Cabinet should make a decision on the bill by November 18, as it was forwarded by the NLA on October 18.
The bill is supported by medical professionals, who say banning children from the boxing ring will protect them from long-lasting brain injuries. However, influential people in the muay thai circle have been fiercely objecting to the bill, saying it will go against a long-standing tradition and affect the income of some deeply impoverished families.
Two-time WBC super flyweight muay thai champion “Chao Laem Srisaket Sor Rungvisai” is reportedly against the bill, because he himself became a boxer when he was just seven.
This draft amendment to the 1999 Boxing Act would also require teen fighters to wear protective gear and be formally registered. It also threatens boxers and referees who rig bouts with up to five years in prison and fines of up to Bt100,000.