Having spent the last few weeks at at the Rawai Muay Thai boxing gym, photographing some of the local boxers training sessions, it was the big night in the boxing ring in Patong this week. The first, and youngest fighter of the night was Pan, in his second fight ever. He is 11 years old and lives in a house with the other boxers from the gym. His parents came to watch him fight, and at the end of the night, he went home with them for a few days before returning back to the boxing gym. Right now it is Summer break and the schools are closed, so kids can go to the boxing camp to try the sport. In a few weeks, Pan will go back to school full time.
Top was the second fighter of the night. He is 16 years old. He lives in the same house as Pan, with the other boxers and some of the trainers in Rawai. He has fought many times and is headed to Bangkok at the end of the year, where the competition is tougher and the boys earn more.
Namwan came to watch the fighting and ended up in the ring when another girl did not show up for her fight. She has fought 26 times. Namwan came to Phuket from the countryside with her sisters. She helped her sister start a beauty salon and she does boxing on the side. She's been training for about 2-3 years. She is 21 years old and after she finishes boxing she will go back to school.
Usually these kids start boxing because their families get them into it and then they like it. The kids are brought into boxing gyms by their families where they stay for a few months to try it. Some stay with the gym and some go back to their families. Life as a boxer is hard; they train twice a day, run twice a day and are not allowed to go out at night. They have to stay in the boxers house or go to the fights at night. They aren't allowed to get too friendly with girls because often their careers are finished once they get involved with girls and have a family.