Sandra Hoyn - The Fighting Children
"Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. Around the world, it is respected as one of the most demanding and intense martial arts. For one thing, Muay Thai is referred to as the Art of Eight Limbs because it involves striking one’s opponent using hands, elbows, knees and shins rather than just hands (and feet).
Many people with limited economic opportunities choose (are forced?) to earn their living from the sport. Thus, muay matches between children begin at the age of six. These bouts are popular with tourists and Thai bettors alike, making them a part of everyday life.
There is no minimum age for muay fighters. Two or three times a month—when other children might be playing soccer or learning to play the piano—these children are fighting for a pittance and pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits.
Very few of them will ever become rich, popular boxing idols. Even if they do find success in the ring, their careers will likely be over at the age of 25.”
As we explored the south of Iceland and made our way west towards Reykjavik, we stopped for a bite to eat at this restaurant called Gamla Fjosid (or old cow house). It is located on Route 1 just at the foot of the great glacier/volcano Eyjafjallajökull which erupted in 2010. From the outside it didn’t look like much, but inside is absolute charm galore. Formerly a cow shed, it has since been converted into a restaurant serving delicious meals using local ingredients and meats from its farm.
Margaret Talbot recommends Susan Orlean’s 1999 story on one of music’s strangest legends:
“The Shaggs are a footnote, but Orlean turns their story into a moving meditation on vicarious ambition, loneliness, family, and the weirdness of being celebrated for failing.”
Illustration by Jaime Hernandez