Like a modern fight club in prisons across Thailand, the combat sport of Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) is giving inmates a chance at earning privileges and maybe even a shot at early release if they win enough fights against foreign opponents. Getty Images photographer Borja Sanchez Trillo went to Klong Pai prison to document one contest.
According to a quirk in Thai law, all inmates have a chance at an amnesty if they achieve a great sporting achievement. The law dates back to 1767 when the Burmese took thousands of Thai soldiers prisoner after the capture of the country’s then-capital Ayutthaya. During their time in prison, the soldiers took part in organised fights against their captors, with the greatest fighter purportedly being granted his freedom.
The recent incorporation of foreign fighters to challenge the prisoners has been spearheaded by an independent organisation called Prison Fight. Billed as a charity, Prison Fight provides sporting equipment, small monetary rewards and, most important for the inmates, offers the successful a realistic chance at getting their sentences reduce. The ultimate goal of Prison Fight is to help rehabilitate prisoners, to promote sport and good health and to help them with better social adjustment in the future.