Death of 13-year-old fuels debate over Muay Thai kickboxing competitions

Thai lawmakers are trying to change the country's laws to protect young fighters.

Samutprakarn, Thailand (CNN)Anucha Tasako was just 13 years old when he stepped into the Muay Thai ring to fight a boy just two years older for prize money of around 2,000 Thai Baht ($60).

He'd done it almost 200 times before, but Saturday's fight was his last.
Anucha died after being knocked unconscious and suffering a hemorrhage at his brain stem, according to Sub. Lt. Rawin Nasomsong, of the Royal Thai Police's Institute of Forensic Medicine.
    The death of the young fighter from Kalasin Province in Thailand's northeast has led to calls for reform to the sport and its practice of using boys and young men -- sometimes as young as seven years old -- to compete in professional bouts.
    Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat has vowed to introduce further legislation to the country's Boxing Act to protect young fighters, the Bangkok Post reports.
    Deceased Muay Thai boxer Anucha Tasako first fought in the ring when he was 8 years old.
    The amendment to the country's Boxing Act would ban all fighters younger than age 12, and require all those between 12 and 15 years old to be provided with safety equipment, especially head guards.
    "This draft stipulates the criteria concerning ages of young people who want to compete in this sport," he said, adding that the Ministry "will rush through the process to forward it to the cabinet for consideration as quickly as possible."

    'He died like a warrior'

    Anucha started practicing Muay Thai at the age of seven or eight, said Damrong Tasako, the teenager's uncle who raised him from the age of three. Tasako added the teen was "very talented."
    He first fought in the ring when he was eight years old, his uncle told CNN, winning his first match that came with a prize of 300 Thai Baht ($9). The prize money for his match on Saturday was 2,000 Thai Baht ($60).