Thais mourn boxer Anucha Thasako, 13, killed in fight

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Anucha ThasakoImage source, Facebook
Image caption,
Anucha had fought in 170 bouts and entered the ring aged eight

The death of a 13-year-old boy who was knocked out in a Thai boxing match has led to renewed pressure on Thailand to ban children from boxing bouts.

Anucha Thasako was pronounced dead from a brain haemorrhage two days after he fought in the charity match.

He had taken part in 170 fights since the age of eight to help raise money for his family, reports say.

The Thai parliament is reviewing legislation that would ban children under 12 from boxing matches.

Thai boxing, or Muay Thai as it is also called, is hugely popular in the country, where thousands of young fighters and their families see it as a way of earning money.

But there are few rules governing the sport and some people oppose proposed laws to protect young fighters, saying they are part of the country's boxing tradition.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Many young Thais and their families see fighting as a way of earning money

Many Thais have been saddened by Anucha's death and have been sharing footage of the fight in central Samut Prakan province. A number of prominent boxing stars have sent tributes.

Opponent's sadness

Video of the match showed the boy, known by his boxing name Phetmongkol Por Peenapat, and his opponent were not wearing any protective headgear.

Anucha was repeatedly punched in the head, before falling to the mat.

One newspaper, Thai Rath, quoted the boy's uncle, trainer and guardian Damrong Thasako as saying: "I want to see a law that requires under-15 boxers to wear protective gear in the fight."

Others on social media questioned why the referee had not stopped the bout earlier.

Anucha's opponent, who is 14, has said he's very sad about what happened and he didn't mean to take another life. He plans to auction the shorts he wore for the match to raise money for Anucha's family.

Thailand has more than 10,000 registered boxers under the age of 15, according to figures released last year by its national Sports Authority.

A draft law before parliament would ban children under 12 from professional boxing matches, and regulate the participation of young teenagers.

"Those aged 12 to 15 will need to be registered, have the permission of their parents and wear protective gear for professional fights," Gen Adulyadej Inthapong, vice chairman of the National Legislative Assembly's committee on sports, told Reuters.

Some campaigners and medics want the minimum age to be raised to 18 and say change is being delayed because child boxing is so lucrative.

The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand wants the age for participation in organised bouts set at 10.

Anucha's death comes shortly after Italian boxer Christian Daghio died in a title fight in the country.