The death of a 13-year-old boy during a charity bout has sparked fierce debate over whether child boxing should be banned in Thailand. Anucha Tasako died on Saturday in the Bangkok suburb of Samut Praka after being knocked out in a Muay Thai, a boxing-esque martial art that originated in Thailand. Tasako collapsed after his opponent delivered several blows to his head. Thais have reacted with shock and anger, reviving calls for a ban on fights between children in the brutal Muay Thai martial art.
Smartphone footage shown by local media captured the grim moment he hit the canvas as assistants quickly rushed into the ring to help the motionless Anucha, who fought under the alias Phetmongkol Sor Wilaithong.
He later died from a brain haemorrhage, according to the police.
Domestic media said he had been fighting since he was eight and had competed in more than 150 bouts.
His opponent, Nitikron Sonde, is around the same age, police said. He took to Facebook to express his sorrow at the death.
"I regret it," he posted on Tuesday, "but I have to do my duty to win so I can make enough money to sponsor myself through education."
Neither fighter was wearing protective headgear.
A bill to prevent minors aged under 12 from taking part is under consideration.
The draft bill is likely to gain support after Anucha's death.
Outrage and anger poured in as news of his death spread, with some blaming the referee for not stepping in sooner to end the fight.
"He could barely stand. Why didn't the referee stop the fight but let him continue to be hit until he was knocked down," one Thai Facebook user said.
Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports was quoted in local media saying he would submit the draft bill "as soon as possible".
But some defended the practice of starting fighters young.
"I don't agree with the draft law to totally ban boxers who are under 12 years old because 99 percent of the famous Thai boxers and Olympic winners began fighting when they were young," Tawee Umpornmaha, 59, a Thai Olympic medallist, told AFP, describing the boy's death as an accident.
"I began at 12 with more than 200 fights. The question is do we have proper safety measures? We must give importance to safety measures including field doctors," he said.
(With AFP inputs)