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The young professional

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He’s 14 – 5 as a professional boxer, but championship glory must wait until eight-year-old Somjet grows up. 

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The young professional

Somjet Dajantra, 8, takes aim at a punching bag during practice at a boxing camp in Phitsanulok. CHINNAWAT SINGHA

Young Somjet Dajantra is 120 centimetres tall and weighs 23 kilogrammes. Each day he runs four kilometres, does chin-ups, works a punching bag and spars with a trainer for two hours after school.

His record in 19 professional fights is 14 wins and five defeats, good enough in many cases to get a world championship bout.

That will have to wait. Somjet is eight years old.

A Prathom 2 student (year 2 of elementary school), Somjet has been earning money boxing for a year now.  He earned 300 baht from his first fight and now has about 3,000 baht in his savings account.

Technically, of course, Somjet is not supposed to be in the ring. Child rights advocate Wanlop Tangkhananurak, secretary-general of the Children Creation Foundation, says the Thai Boxing Act has banned children under 15 years from fighting for a living.

Children under 15 years can fight only with parental approval, he said.

However, parents or guardians of young boxers usually claim their kids fight for entertainment, not to make a living, to avoid legal complications, Mr Wanlop said.

Somjet, who lives with his grandmother since his parents work elsewhere, is not planning on quitting. Boxing is his dream. The fact he can make some money out of the sport to give to his grandmother and to buy his school supplies makes it even sweeter.

"I want to be a famous boxer," said Somjet. "I also want to study up to the doctoral level. I want my grandmother to be happier and to live a more comfortable life."

Watcharin Thapthonglarng, the headmaster of Wat Mek Suwannaram school where Somjet studies, said the school helps monitor the time he spends with boxing to make sure his education does not suffer.
Adapted from a story in today’s Bangkok Post by Chinnawat Singha.

glory – admiration and praise that you get because you have done something impressive ความมีชื่อเสียง, ความรุ่งเรือง
chin-up – an exercise in which you hold onto a high bar above your head and pull yourself up towards it
punching bag – a heavy leather bag, hung on a rope, which is punched, especially by boxers as part of training, or as a form of exercise
to practise fighting with someone ซ้อมมวย
bout – a boxing or wrestling match การแข่งขัน
technically – according to an exact understanding of rules, facts, etc.
(boxing) ring – a confined area in which boxers compete, with seats around the outside for the audience เวทีมวย    
right – a moral or legal claim to have or get something or to behave in a particular สิทธิ
advocate – someone who strongly and publicly supports someone or something ผู้สนับสนุน
foundation – an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity มูลนิธิ
banned – officially not allowed to do something ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
parental approval – permission from a parent ความยินยอมจากผู้ปกครอง
guardian – a person who is legally responsible for the care of another person, especially a child ผู้ปกครอง
claim – to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it อ้าง
entertainment – fun; behaviour or activities that are not serious but come from a sense of enjoyment  ความบันเทิง, ความสนุกสนาน
avoid – to try to prevent something from happening หลีกเลี่ยง
legal – relating to the law or lawyers เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
complication – something which makes a situation more difficult, or when it does this การทำให้ยาก,  การทำให้ยุ่ง
doctoral level – study at the doctorate degree level, the highest degree or qualification from a university ระดับปริญญาเอก
headmaster – a teacher who is in charge of a school ครูใหญ่
monitor – to regularly check something or watch someone in order to find out what is happening  ตรวจสอบ ตรวจตรา
suffer – to be badly affected by a very difficult or unpleasant situation ประสบความลำบาก

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