Martial arts club in spotlight for training orphans

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/27 17:43:39

A boy boxer prepares for a stage combat in Thailand. Photo: IC

A fight club in Southwest China's Sichuan Province has stirred controversy because it has been training orphans and left-behind children to become boxers of the mixed martial arts (MMA) in the name of charity.

The local government on Tuesday vowed to conduct an investigation to ascertain if the club violated the Compulsory Education Law of China.

Experts said that the government and society should be involved in protecting the rights and security of the children.

Compulsory education

"Orphans can also afford to go to school, because the tuition fee is free and there is allowance as well," said Lin Shucheng, Party secretary of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, where most of the involved children are from, said in a reply to the "boxing orphans" event, chinanews.com reported Tuesday.

Lin said that the prefecture was currently investigating the event, and if the involved club was found to have violated the Compulsory Education Law, it would be dealt with seriously.

A 5-minute video titled "boxing orphans" has gone viral on the Chinese Internet since July 21.

The video shows that the Enbo Fight Club, an MMA club in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, has "adopted" more than 400 children who had lost their parents.

Two members of the club, Xiao Long and Xiao Wu, both 14 and from Liangshan, said that their dream was to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest game on MMA.

They practice MMA daily and participate in some commercial performances occasionally.

In the video, the two boys are fighting in an iron cage at a commercial event held by a property company in Chengdu on June 18, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

The Enbo Fight Club was founded in 1995 by En Bo, a retired special police officer, according to the official website of the club.

In 2000, the Enbo Charity was formed to support orphans and poor children. Currently the club is still sheltering 150 orphans.

"The club has built 40 dormitory rooms equipped with TV sets and air conditioners for the children. Every year, the club procures yak meat from Tibet," the website read.

 "I would rather stay here. If I went home, I could only do manual work and eat potatoes," Xiao Wu says in the video clip.

Inhumane performances

According to a coach from the club, the children were adopted by the club with "formal documentation," and most children were actually left-behind children, chinanews.com reported Monday.

However, according to the Law on the Protection of Minors, one adopter can only adopt one child.

"Using orphans to do the inhuman fighting to make profit is sin," "Xinsui Weizhuan," a Sina Weibo user said.

"Using minors to perform boxing is illegal if there is a risk of damage to their body and mind," Zhao Hui, a lawyer and director of the Beijing Bar Association Committee on Child Protection, told the Global Times Monday.

Zhao said that according to the Law on Public Security Administration of China, "organizing or coercing persons who have not reached the age of 16 or who are disabled to give terrifying or inhumane performances, or luring such persons into giving such performances" is illegal.

"The government should intervene to guarantee the children's right of nine-year compulsory education," Yu Shaoxiang, an expert on social security and poverty relief legislation at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"Meanwhile, if the children were injured in trainings and performances or suffered from extreme brutal training, the club should be held accountable by law," Yu noted.

"In terms of the fighting orphans, whether we should take them, how to treat them and how to settle them down are issues that need to be studied," Song Gang, an official from the education bureau of Liangshan said, chinanews.com reported.

"But they will not 'only have potatoes to eat,'" Song said, explaining that  every boarding student in the prefecture could receive an allowance of 170 yuan ($25.2) each month, and a nutrition project has been implemented to benefit local students.

"The law gives the 'boxing orphans' a right to be educated. If they come back to their hometown for school, the local schools would accept them unconditionally," Song noted.


Newspaper headline: Boxing orphans


Posted in: SOCIETY

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