Young Muay Thai Fighters Exchange Blows for a Better Life

    Young Muay Thai fighters fight for prize money. (Image: Rohan Radheya)A young Muay Thai fighter is prepared for a bout. (Image: Rohan Radheya)A young girl waits in her corner, ready to do Muay Thai. (Image: Rohan Radheya) A young Muay Thai fighter rests in her corner. (Image: Rohan Radheya)The tattoos on the back of a Muay Thai fighter in a gym in northern Thailand.  (Image: Rohan Radheya) Young Muay Thai fighter strikes a pose during training. (Image: Rohan Radheya)A Muay Thai champion's belt. (Image: Rohan Radheya)

    Lack of job opportunities in northern Thailand means many young rural children become Muay Thai fighters in a bid for a better life.

    Dutch photojournalist Rohan Radheya spent a month documenting a group of young fighters during their training.

    “One day they hope to become professionals and fight in the bigger cities such as Chiang Mai and Bangkok where the big money is,” said Rohan.

    “Competition is tough, and training sessions are long and hard.”

    In remote areas near the Burma and Laos borders, small village festivals (dandavats) attract young Muay Thai fighters to compete against each other for a few hundred baht (less than $10).

    “Some of them are as young as six-years-old,” said Rohan. “They train months for this opportunity. The chances of getting hurt is high and the loser doesn’t get paid anything.”

    A selection of Rohan’s images are in the gallery above.


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