Thailand Prison Fight Program Lets Inmates Earn Early Release By Fighting

According to Wikipedia,

Prison Fight is a rehabilitation program for inmates through combat sports founded in 2012. It is organized in partnership with the Thai Department of Corrections, an agency of the Thai Ministry of Justice. Prison Fight hosts events inside various prisons in Thailand, with the mission of providing inmates with money, equipment and prepare them to reintegrate society, while having a serious chance at getting their sentence reduced.

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The Thai Penal System has a long history of organizing sporting events, from soccer and basketball tournaments to weightlifting competitions. In an effort to modernize the penal system, Thai authorities began issuing sentence reductions to the athletes viewed as bringing honor to their country. In the 1980s, Thai Department of Corrections introduced a program called Sports Behind Bars. This gave birth to the Thai tradition of pardoning outstanding fighters. Muay Thai was one of the first activities offered.

Since then, only a handful of prisoners have managed to parlay their skill into an early release. In 2007, the imprisoned drug dealer Siriporn Taweesuk beat a Japanese boxer for the World Boxing Council light-flyweight title in a match held at Klong Prem Prison. Not long afterward, she was released, having achieved, in the words of one Thai official, “glory for Thailand.” That same year, Amnat Ruenroeng, a muay Thai veteran and convicted robber serving 15 years at Bangkok’s Thonburi prison, was pardoned after winning a national title in boxing. He subsequently qualified to represent Thailand at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.