It's been almost two weeks since King first showed up at our gym. His grandma didn't even have a motorcycle to bring him, instead she had to borrow her brother's. King's grandma works at a restaurant in Phutthaisong where we live. She's a hard working woman, albeit a little timid. One day when I was enjoying my sam-tam, complete with fermented fish and much needed probiotics, she asked if she could bring her grandson to the gym. I said, of course. But deep down I felt this was just another empty offer. Everybody wants to train, or wants their kids to train, but rarely are they willing to put in the effort involved.
A month had passed and I completely forgot about her offer and then one day out of no where, there she was with King. Boom grabbed some Booster shorts for him and send him on the bag. The grandma watched patiently, as if it was some sort of try out, quietly interjecting bits of King's story to me as I sat and watched.
King has no father, and his mother is gone working. No one is caring for him at home, and there isn't enough money to go around. King recently ordained as a novice monk for over a year, and when he completed his ordainment decided that he didn't want to go back to school but instead pursue his GED.
For his grandma, what did she want for her grandson more than anything else?
"I don't want people to look down on him."
With no motorcycle at home, and no one to send him to the gym, we told King that he could come live with us, but didn't expect it to stick. To say I was surprised, when he showed up later that night with his bag, was an understatement.
So now, here he is. Travelling all over the region with us as we fight, grow, and pursue dreams together. He's got incredible promise as a fighter, but what is more is that he's got a chance at a better life. We are here to offer him guidance, structure, and a safe environment where he can flourish into adulthood.
And while I am so grateful that we can help him, I can't help but feel a little saddened by the fact that in the past two weeks no one has called or checked up on him. King's story is not unique to the area; it is more common than not. It's so humbling to be here; empowering children through Muay Thai. Through this journey I have realized that one of the biggest things holding children back is the reluctancy of their parents or care givers to push, inspire, and facilitate their Muay Thai journey. King's grandma did something amazing for her grandson, and I hope one day we can return the favour to her.
We want to again thank our monthly donors and corporate sponsors for the opportunities you are creating for kids like King.
Special thanks to Abigail Sitmonchai for the heart warming photos.