Muay Thai Kids

PhotographerNic Bezzina
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Under the fluorescent lights of the boxing ring, the boy can barely see out beyond the elastic ropes that surround the fighting stage. The crowd that press in around him are shadowy outlines. "Satann Mueng, 12 years old, 30.9 kilograms” the announcer says. Thai boxing, or Muay Thai is no stranger to controversy. The fighters employ punches, kicks, knee and elbows strikes that can incapacitate the opponents. What is even more controversial is that children enter professional boxing rings. Social workers say that child boxing should be limited to show and not practiced in professional fights but for many it's the only potential way out of poverty. The 96 Camp is located under a flyover in Klong Toey, Bangkok's biggest slum. Kids come from the impoverished countryside or the urban working class. They train every day, endure the hardship and pain to fight their way towards a more dignified life.