Buffalo Girls: An Inside Look At The Underground World of Child Boxers

Buffalo Girls Movie Poster
DocumentaryFilmGirlsHuman Rights 5 Comments

Buffalo Girls, a film by Todd Kellstein, takes an inside look at Thailand’s underground world of child boxers, telling the heartbreaking story of 8-year-old-girls, Stam and Pet, both professional Muay Thai prizefighters. Set in villages throughout rural Thailand, the film chronicles these young girls’ journey as they fight in small underground arenas to win prize-money to help provide and improve the standard of living for their families.

In an impoverished country like Thailand, boxing is one of few alternatives to the country’s commercial sex trade as a means of escaping extreme poverty. The numbers are staggering… there are some 30,000 children under the age of 15 boxing in rural Thailand.

Kellstein follows and exposes the intense preparation and horrific battles these girls experience. After months of training and matches, Stam and Pet meet one another in the ring to fight for the championship belt, and a cash prize that can change one of their lives forever. According to Kellstein, child boxers in Thailand can earn as much as half of a family’s monthly rent from a single match.

Buffalo GirlsThere’s a lot of controversy among human rights activists and those who are trying to preserve Thailand’s rich culture, as to whether or not child boxers in Thailand are being exploited, or whether it is culturally acceptable for them to be fighting. Muay Thai is a martial art with a 700 year old history, and for the villages involved, gambling has become a part of the community’s framework and local economy making it nearly impossible to eradicate.

But, just because something is culturally accepted, does it mean that it’s a good idea and should not be challenged? According to critics, Kellstein doesn’t address or answer these questions in Buffalo Girls, but initiates an important global conversation.

With this year bringing the United Nations resolution for the first ever International Day of the Girl, and the Girl Scouts declaring it Year of the Girl, it is clear that a significant amount of work needs to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of girls like Stam and Pet around the world.

Buffalo Girls is opening today in Los Angeles at Laemmle Theatres and will be available for streaming on Netflix and HULU in February 2013.

Buffalo Girls – Theatrical Trailer from Buffalogirlsthemovie on Vimeo.

  • Tara

    This is horrific. This is not just boxing. It looks like extreme boxing where one participant can kick as well as swing at the other participant. We all know what blows to the head and body have done to adult boxers. Think about what this is doing to these young bodies. These youngsters will carry scars (both physically and mentally) into adulthood.

  • Peli

    I’m really tired of this argument that because something is culturally historic we need to accept it or look the other way. “Oh, they’ve been letting little kids kick the crap out of each other for 700 years… then sure, carry on!” Perhaps there is cultural and historic significance to this “sport”, but it does not make it any less barbaric.

    If this is truly the only way out of poverty next to the commercial sex trade, then the Thai government needs to step in and figure out a way to help. My heart breaks for these children and their families.

  • JA

    The trailer is sickening… a room full of adult men in a cheering and betting frenzy as they watch two 8 year old girls pummel each other.

    Not sure what is the saddest part… that reality or the fact that the girls think their participation in the fight is noble because that’s what they have been taught to think by their own families.


  • Guy from Hells Kitchen

    This story just shows what some humans are capable of doing to children. Thailand treats children like they were cats, dogs or farm animal.

  • Sy

    This is horrific and falls into the same category as female genital mutilation… until the money train comes to a halting stop it will never be eradicated. What’s to become of these children is petrifying to think about.