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Just weeks after Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly floated an amendment to raise the minimum age for children performing in Muay Thai, a 13-year-old Thai boy died during kickboxing match after being knocked out.

The proposed amendment to Thailand’s 1999 Boxing Act drew widespread dissent from the boxing community who argued that the change would put Thai boxers at a disadvantage to foreign fighters who would be allowed to train at an earlier age.

“Even now, Thai boxers can barely compete with foreign fighters,” former WBC world champion Samart Payakaroon said about the amendment. “If we forbid child boxing, it will spell the end for Muay Thai in this country.”

In other countries, children begin training as early as age 5. If the proposed amendment to Thailand’s Muay Thai regulations were to pass, the earliest a kid could participate in boxing would be 12-years-old, and that’s only with the permission of the parents and a gym.

But some doctors and child right’s groups in Thailand are pushing for the legislation, calling it necessary to prevent injuries and brain damage in children who are in important developmental stages in life.

According to Thailand family lawyer Jitsopin Narasettapong, child participation in Thailand is extremely common, especially in rural areas where it is seen as a means by many families of getting out of poverty.

Footage shared across social media of the fight that ended the life of the 13-year-old boy, showed neither of the participants in the kickboxing match wearing protective gear, which is normal in most Muay Thai fights.

It’s believed that the boy died from a brain hemorrhage.

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