The Violent, Lonely World of Myanmar’s Child Boxers
The brutal bloodsport Lethwei has caught fire – so much that parents are putting their kids in the ring.
Photos by Aung Naing Soe
“Let me introduce you to one fighter!” Tin Oo barks over the roar of the crowd and thumping hype music at a Lethwei gym in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital. “Very experienced fighter!” he shouts.
It’s the second day of a weeklong festival dedicated to Lethwei, a brutal brand of kickboxing – and a national pastime in Myanmar. The sport calls for fighters to use their bare knuckles, and head butts are fair play. Throwing and choking are also par for the course. Fights are fast, exceptionally furious and typically don’t last long, with knockouts delivered swiftly.
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