Fight Club skirts law

Fight Club skirts law

The Fight Club Thailand Group's ostentatious claim that its underground fighting activities can solve the long-standing problem of student brawling does not justify it staying above the law and remaining unregulated.

The group might argue that its boxing matches are controlled by boxing rules similar to regulated bouts, with a referee on hand for every match. Professional boxers are not allowed to take part in the event, only amateurs can take part on a voluntary basis. Fighters are also required to undergo an attitude-improvement session to make sure they will not instigate conflicts or hold grudges against opponents after the fights. It cannot be disputed, however, that hand-to-hand combat is dangerous.

People behind the club, which organises a moveable forum for street fights around Bangkok, may insist in media interviews that they have had no problems involving major injuries or "bad blood" beyond the bouts during the 90 matches that have been held over the past five months.

This, however, offers no guarantee there will be none in the future. And who will take responsibility if injuries, or even deaths, result from the fights?

It's true that the chances of unfortunate incidents are not high as each match is limited to three minutes -- but it is by no means impossible.

The Fight Club Thailand made news earlier this week after video clips showing some of its fights made their way on to the net. The street-fighting organiser recorded each fight and posted video clips of the rough and raw punch-up on its Facebook Page, a closed group with more than 60,000 members, and on YouTube where some of the bouts received more than 300,000 views.

Many people commended the Fight Club group for coming up with a new, much-needed way to allow teens to let off steam under certain rules and supervision. Some even said the voluntary fight forum can serve as a model to solve the long-running problem of brawling among students from rival colleges and schools which have become deadly at times.

A Fight Club Thailand founder, Sophon Nartnukul, reportedly said he set up the street boxing forum because he believes it could reduce violence in the country.

If youngsters, or people from all walks of life, need to do something wild, it's best to have semi-controlled spaces where they can take on each other and, in the process learn about combat arts, he reasoned.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau does not buy this argument. MPB acting chief Sanit Mahathavorn said police will keep a watch on the street fights and take action against them if needed.

Pol Lt Gen Sanit had a point when he insisted there is a law preventing an organisation from holding boxing matches and the Fight Club Thailand group should not be exempt from following it. His observation that public streets are not appropriate venues for amateur fights is also a sensible one.

Instead of heeding the police warning and taking precautions prescribed by the law to improve its activities such as a need for medical personnel to stand by at all times and making sure all fighters are insured, the Fight Club Thailand chose to be defiant and try to get away through what appears to be a loophole.

The Club insisted that it has done nothing wrong as its matches are a sport, like futsal or basketball, while the Boxing Act seeks to govern formal competitions with rankings and prizes.

The group said it will continue its forum, even expand it out of Bangkok to other areas around the country. This is unfortunate as the club could have improved the law and its own activities if it tries to work within the legal system instead of flouting it.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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