These dramatic pictures show the brutal reality of child kickboxing bouts in Thailand where kids are paid up to $1,000 to compete.
The controversial matches which are staged across the Asian nation are hugely popular and draw in crowds of thousands when they are staged.
However, the sport is also notoriously dangerous and has previously resulted in the deaths of competitors.
Only last month a 13-year-old kickboxer died from a brain hemorrhage one day after being knocked unconscious during a match.
Thailand’s Mahidol University published a study last month which said that allowing children under 15 to box could result in various types of brain damage.
But Sukrit Parekrithawet, a lawyer who represents several boxing training camps, said fighters need to start young in order to develop ‘boxing bones’.
He said: ‘If you don’t allow younger players to learn their way up, how can they be strong and experienced enough to fight? ‘We call it ‘boxing bones.’ You need to have boxing bones built from a very young age.’
Young Muay Thai boxers fight each other during a well-attended teenage boxing competition in the town of Lopburi, Thailand this month
Eight-year-old Muay Thai fighter Dech from Chonburi, Thailand lands a kick to his opponent’s chest during a tournament this month
Muay Thai is less regulated than other contact sports like boxing, which uses ‘two points’ (fists) and kickboxing, which uses ‘four points’ (hands and feet)
In 2016, 9,998 children under the age of 15 were registered with Board of Boxing under the Sport Authority of Thailand, according to Child Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Centre
The sport of Muay Thai is enormously popular in Thailand and draws in crowds of hundreds and thousands from across the country
Children competing in bouts receive a maximum of $1,000 for their participation. Many compete with hopes of escaping from poverty
Muay Thai boxing is considered the national sport of Thailand, with a strong element of tradition, it is widely promoted as a means of keeping kids out of trouble, and lifting families from poverty especially in the rural areas
Defenders of child boxing argue that children need to start young in the sport in order to develop ‘boxer’s bones’ to defend themselves
Rigorous training regimes mean Muay Thai boxers have relatively short careers and must make as much money as they can while they’re young
A Thai monk offers a blessing to a young fighter before he fights during a Muay Thai boxing competition in Lopburi earlier this month
aining specific to a Thai fighter includes training with coaches on Thai pads, focus mitts, heavy bag, and sparring. Daily training includes many repetitive three to five minute rounds
Muay Thai fighter Narai Lek,12, from Ratchaburi gets ready for his fight stretching and massaging his muscles in between matches
Young Muay Thai boxers practice in the boxing ring at the Sor Wong Sar camp on Monday this week ready for a big boxing competition
Muay Thai boxer Samsun,11, works out during daily practice at the Nor Naksin Muay Thai boxing camp in preparation for one of the region’s largest competitions
Mangsun,11, poses in the ring after winning his 32 kilo fight with a prize money of around $300 during a Muay Thai boxing competition
Coach Bancha says a prayer wishing his boxer, Nong Lek, aged 13, from Korat, good luck before his big fight earlier this month
Muay Thai boxer Samsun,11, gets some mentoring from Japanese fighter Tarunsan during practice at the Nor Naksin Muay Thai boxing camp
Mek Noi ,14 , holds his prize money of 5,000 Thai bhat ($152) after victory in his section of the Thai boxing tournament this month