Photos by Frances Watthanaya and Matthew Yarbrough
November 24, 2015
It’s a Tuesday morning around 7am. Ann, Min, Bpaet, and Mo are supposed to be on their way to school. Instead, they’re riding in the back of a small passenger car, sticking their heads out the window whenever they passed a classmate on a bike, yelling, “Hey, we’re gonna go get fights!”
It’s the day before Loi Krathong, an annual Thai festival in which small wreath-like boats are released into rivers and lakes to show appreciation for the river spirits and Mother Nature. Festivals are held all over Thailand, and many feature Muay Thai matches. It’s these small festival shows that give young fighters their start. For kids growing up in Isaan, Thailand’s largely agrarian northeastern region, the chance to fight at any show, Loi Krathong festival or otherwise, is a chance to earn money for their families and maybe even make a name for themselves as professional fighters.
That’s why Min, Ann, Mo, and Bpaet are allowed to skip school. The boys, Bpaet and Mo, and the girls, Ann and Min, all between the ages of 12 and 13, have been training and fighting out of the new village gym, Wor. Watthana, for ….View original article