Alain Schroeder (BE) "Muay Thai Kids" - Helphoto 2023




Muay Thai Kids
Poverty forces many residents from Isaan to seek work in Bangkok, but fearing the temptations of city life (drugs, gangs, sex trade), children are often left behind under the care of grandparents.

To keep them out of trouble, and with the prospect of earning money to support the family, kids are enrolled in Muay Thai training camps–the traditional martial art of Thai boxing that is the country’s national sport–as early as five years old and compete by six or seven years old. Every story is similar; the kid dreams of one day fighting on TV, building a house for their parents, and defending the pride of their community, while gym owners, trainers, and families rely heavily on their earnings.

Betting is fierce, and the pressure on the children is palpable. Few will become champions, but for poor kids with limited options, Muay Thai is a way to meet the cultural expectation of helping their families and a chance at a better life.

Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder has worked in the industry for over three decades. During his tenure as a sports photographer in the 80s, his shots appeared in over 500 magazine covers. His work appeared in book assignments and editorial pieces with diverse subjects like travel, art, culture, and human interest. In 1989, he co-founded the Belgian photo agency, Reporters. In 2013, he uprooted his life to pursue life on the road with a camera. Schroeder now travels the world shooting stories focused on social issues, people, and their environment. His pictures have won many awards, including 3 World Press Photo awards and 4 Pictures of the Year (POYI) awards. 

Alain Schroeder (BE) "Muay Thai Kids" - Helphoto 2023
Alain Schroeder (BE) "Muay Thai Kids" - Helphoto 2023