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  1. ITV Report

Child boxing debate reignites in Thailand after death of 13-year-old

13-year-old boxer Anucha Tasako died of a brain hemorrhage after a Muay Thai fight Credit: AP

A funeral has been held in Bangkok for a 13-year-old boxer whose death has reignited the debate in Thailand over whether child boxing should be banned.

Anucha Tasako died of a brain hemorrhage after a Muay Thai fight on November 10.

Anucha had fought 174 times during a five-year career.

Anucha's grandmother Subin Tasako said she had asked her grandson to give up boxing. Credit: AP

Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports has proposed a total ban on competitive matches for children under 12, with fights between 12 to 15-year-olds needing prior approval from authorities.

Dr. Witaya Sungkarat, a doctor from Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok, spent five years conducting a study published last month that compared brain development between young boxers and children not involved with the sport.

The study's results clearly show that boxing causes irreparable damage to a young child's developing brain, he said, adding that the longer each participant had boxed, the worse their condition became.

Doctor Witaya Sungkarat shows the brain scans that have formed part of his research. Credit: AP

"Previous attempts to ban (child boxing) were unsuccessful and were opposed," he said.

"But this time we have a solid evidence, conclusive research with a small p-value (statistical probability value). It strongly shows the lower IQs among boxers when compared to other (control) group. The longer they had boxed, the lower their IQ level. It's obvious that boxing is causing something."

Suthep Saengngern, uncle of child boxer Chaichana Saengngern and gym supervisor, said boxing was the only sporting option for poor families.

Anucha's grandmother Subin Tasako, 75, said she had asked her grandson to give up boxing but he told her without it he would not be able to pay for school or to support his family.