I often wonder if I live on the same planet as those who live in the most extreme poverty the world has to offer. My initial privileged American reaction was to condemn this as brutal and barbaric, and make no mistake it is. These children undergo grueling training and are broken and battered daily. The harsh reality is that Thailand’s per capita income is one-tenth of the United States. Fighting is a more viable alternative than the other large industry in the region, the sex trade.
Thirty-thousand children fight in tournaments where the winners are awarded cash, prizes, and most of all, a chance to drag their families out of poverty. I’m not sure which is sadder, that they are actually doing this or that their living conditions are so poor that this is a viable option.