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It shows the pre-fight preparation of one of the young kiddies from Cement Factory Gym Hpa An, the setting next to a small buddhist worship place in the midst of a rural agricultural area, and some of the first bouts of a Burmese Boxing youngster’s tournament near Hpa An, Kayin State, Myanmar, which was held in celebration of a buddhist novice’s inauguration ceremony in April 2013.
As one can see, all the contenders of the tournament get paid small amounts of money during and after their bouts as an appreciation of their engagement and bravery.
As one can see, the duration of the bouts varies between only a few seconds and a few minutes, with no fixed breaks or rounds – instead, as soon as one of the opponents becomes visibly inferior to the other, the bout is stopped and ended by the referee. Also one can see some of the youngsters performing their traditional boxing dance (“Louvi Yi Pya”) at the end of a bout with intent to show respect to the officials and to thank the music orchestra and the audience for their support.

Video captured by AndréRené / in April 2013.

For more high-quality pictures, videos and information about Lethwei training and fighting in Myanmar, please visit


It is not the intention of and its operators to glorify or endorse violence among human beings, especially among children and adolescents. Myanmar is a developing country. A majority of the population, especially in rural areas, is still little educated and lives in financial poverty. It is common there that children and adolescents have to contribute to the family income with manual work from an early age.

In Myanmar, it is established that already the participation in a Lethwei tournament is rewarded with comparatively good money, and competitors are additionally honored with various amounts for bravery and commitment during the fight. So, even for the youngest participants Lethwei is a way not only to gain respect and self-confidence, but also to earn money for their family’s livelihood that is well needed.

In the rural areas of Myanmar, there are no opportunities for common people to practice Western sports that need specialized equipment or training facilities. Soccer and “Chinlone”, also known as Caneball – both played out on the streets and on simple dirt grounds – are almost the only widespread sports activities besides Lethwei, the Burmese National Martial Art. Therefore, it might be advisable not to impose Western standards to what is seen as a sporting activity suitable for children in Myanmar, and what minimum protection gear is needed for combat sport competitions.

However – Lethwei, the Burmese Boxing, is a competitive combat sport. And like in any other full-contact martial art, there are pre-agreements between the contenders to allow each other to try to strike the opponent – within the framework of the competition rules and under the supervision of the referee and the considerate attendants in the corners, of course. What looks quite brutal as a snapshot in the image series, is not at all that violent in real life as it looks like at a first glance – especially in the children’s and beginner’s bouts.

As you can see in the video clips, the children’s, adolescent’s and beginner’s matches are interrupted every few seconds by the referee, who jumps in before one of the contenders can get seriously hurt or injured. And as soon as it becomes obvious that one of the opponents is clearly inferior to the other, the bout is immediately stopped by the referee.


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