How sad parents get their kicks

I COULDN T believe what I was seeing when I flicked onto Channel 4 s Cutting Edge documentary last week. Strictly Baby Fight Club revealed children as young as four taking part in organised fighting in the UK. More than 500 registered clubs in the UK are

I COULDN'T believe what I was seeing when I flicked onto Channel 4's Cutting Edge documentary last week.

Strictly Baby Fight Club revealed children as young as four taking part in organised fighting in the UK.

More than 500 registered clubs in the UK are apparently teaching Thai boxing - one of the fastest growing martial arts in the country.

The programme followed five primary school children and their families who are investing everything into training their kids to be the best young fighters in Britain.


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Whatever way you cut it, the sport has its dangers, particularly for children.

Several times during the programme it showed youngsters in the ring being clobbered round the head. Boxers are subjected to the risk of physical injury, including brain damage.

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According to Dr Uthen Pandee, a lecturer at Thailand's Ramathibodi Hospital's emergency medicine department, some boxers also face abrupt paralysis while others will experience slow mobility and deteriorating memory when they become middle-aged.

Thailand's deputy social development and human security minister Poldej Pinpratheep has also said boxing affects the joint development of young boxers and children may become undersized.

What was also sickening about the TV programme is that it showed aggressive parents shouting and yelling at their children from the side, swearing profusely and encouraging their children to pummel their opponent. To my mind, on a number of occasions, the parents' attitude towards their children's performance could have only made their youngsters feel useless.

It seems a competitive, obsessive world where 'it's the taking part that counts' has no place and only the victorious can retain their self-esteem. There is always going to be a loser in this senseless and sadistic sport and I don't think this is a good lesson for children to learn in their formative years.

The father of a five-year-old girl admitted his daughter sometimes has to be coaxed into the ring and "there is always a worry she will start crying".

Also, on top of his school work and homework, a normal week for one 10-year-old boy consists of running over 15km, doing 400 sit-ups, and at least 10 hours on the bags and sparring. He is preparing to fight in front of more than 1,000 paying adults in a 23ft metal cage. This level of dedicated training is surely not only detrimental to his education but also to the social aspect of his young life.

In Thailand, most young boxers get into the ring because they want to earn money for their education and their families. They are desperate. In this country, parents are pushing their children into the sport as a hobby or as a way of keeping fit. But what's wrong with swimming, tennis, ballet or gymnastics?

There may be a risk of a child's self-esteem being lowered if

they cannot master the breaststroke, fail at their forehand, are poor at pirouetting, or cannot cartwheel, but at least the risk of brain damage or paralysis is negligible.

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