On­line video of two 14-year-olds in a box­ing ring raises ques­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Of­fi­cials from a re­mote part of Sichuan prov­ince have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter two lo­cal boys ap­peared in a vi­ral video about a fight club for or­phans and “left-be­hind” chil­dren in Sichuan.

Child wel­fare and ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials from the Liang­shan Yi au­tonomous pre­fec­ture have been sent to Enbo Fight Club, which claims to have adopted and trained about 400 chil­dren since 2001.

The move comes af­ter a video was shared on­line on Thurs­day fea­tur­ing two 14-year-olds from Liang­shan’s Bu­tuo county fight­ing in a ring sim­i­lar to the kind used for mixed mar­tial arts.

Dur­ing short in­ter­views, the boys said they were “adopted” by the club and oc­ca­sion­ally per­form as part of com­mer­cial events.

They say the training is hard but add that they do not have to worry about food, clothes or shel­ter at the club, where they can eat beef and eggs. In their home vil­lage, they can eat only pota­toes, they say.

Bu­tuo is one of the least de­vel­oped ar­eas in Liang­shan, which has a num­ber of iso­lated vil­lages, ac­cord­ing to Song Ming, an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer with the pre­fec­ture’s gov­ern­ment.

Opin­ions among those who have watched the video have been di­vided. Some ar­gued that the chil­dren can learn life skills to sup­port them­selves in the fu­ture, while oth­ers ac­cused the club of ex­ploita­tion and said the chil­dren were be­ing de­prived of ac­cess to an ed­u­ca­tion.

The Liang­shan gov­ern­ment

It is im­pos­si­ble for its owner to adopt so many kids.” Xu Bin, lawyer at Junyi Law Of­fice Num­ber of chil­dren that Enbo Fight Club claimed to have adopted and trained since 2001

will work with Chengdu po­lice to look into the boys’ wel­fare, ac­cord­ing to Lin Shucheng, the pre­fec­ture’s Party chief.

If the club has vi­o­lated the com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion law, it will be dealt with, he said.

Song added that the Bu­tuo ed­u­ca­tion bureau would take the two chil­dren back to con­tinue their school­ing if any of­fense is dis­cov­ered.

En Bo, founder of the club, is a for­mer SWAT sol­dier from Sichuan’s Aba Ti­betan and Qiang au­tonomous pre­fec­ture. He said he came from a poor fam­ily and lost his fa­ther at the age of 8. Be­cause of that ex­pe­ri­ence, he wanted to help im­pov­er­ished chil­dren, he said.

How­ever, Xu Bin, a top lawyer with Junyi Law Of­fice in Chengdu, cast doubt on claims that the club legally adopted the chil­dren.

“It is im­pos­si­ble for its owner to adopt so many kids,” he said.

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