"Otherwise where would they go? Would they become beggars?"
Enbo, a ‘Fight Club’ for orphans in China, has divided opinion online.
Revealed through a short documentary from Pear Video, a popular video site in China, Enbo Fight Club has over 400 young fighters. Many of the fighters are orphans who practice mixed martial arts MMA.
In the video, two 12-year-old boys are seen fighting each other in a caged arena with an onlooking crowd. Their coach later says the club manages the children’s money from the fights.
En Bio, founder of the club says orphans and ‘left-behind’ children are sent to him by the Civil Affairs Bureau. Those who do not meet the club’s high standards are returned to the care of the state. He started the club 16 years ago.
The video also shows two 14-year-old boys, Little Long and Little Wu. Long’s father passed away and his mother had “gone”. Wu was brought to the club by his grandmother following the deaths of his parents.
“My idol is Conor McGregor, from UFC,” says Little Wu.
“Here you have everything,” he says of the MMA club. “Food, accommodation and clothes… If I went home, I would probably be doing some labour work, and then working a part-time job.”
Thousands have commented on the story via Weibo, debating whether the morality of the club.
“Learning to fight from a young age offers a way out for the future, I don’t think there’s anything majorly wrong,” says one comment which has been liked more than 2,000 times.
Others agree: “Otherwise where would they go? Would they become beggars?” one says.
“They can rely on this to make a living, and eventually become professional athletes.” another user adds.
However, some are less convinced. “I’ve never had a good feeling about this; my feeling is it’s a form of abuse,” one user posted says.
“They should be at school, and yet have entered into the profit-driven world. What’s being implanted into them is that the rules of survival means that the winner takes all. This is deplorable; where are the authorities in all this?” another person asks.
Club supervisor Zhu Guanghui said the police were investigating. He added that the club was cooperating with the authorities.