Controversial MMA club trains hundreds of orphans

Updated 2017-07-21 14:12:28

(ECNS) --A video clip showing how two orphans became proficient in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as teenagers, thanks to the Enbo Fight Club in Chengdu city of Sichuan Province, is again stirring debate over the club's operations.

Xiao Long and Xiao Wu, both 14 years old, are from the province's Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, one of the poorest areas in China. As Enbo members, they were taught MMA skills and had performed for commercials, including cage fighting.

Interviewed in the video, Xiao Wu appeared to be satisfied with his life, saying "the food here is better, with beef and eggs, but there are only potatoes in my hometown and I have to labor hard."

Xiao Long said his mother had abandoned him after his father died.

The pair both said they wanted to continue training with the club and aspired to become known MMA fighters. The club had taken in around 400 orphaned children during its years of operation.

While some netizens gave the club a thumbs up for its care of the orphans and for teaching them a survival skill, others questioned if the focus on fight-training could prepare them for life.

Because the club allegedly manages all the money made through the teenagers' MMA shows, some have suspected that the club is taking advantage of the children.

The club was founded by veteran armed police officer Enbo, who said he shared similar experiences with his club's members. Born in Heishui County in Sichuan, Enbo was eight years old when he lost his father, and life was tough. At 18, he began practicing free combat and later joined the armed police. In 1980, Enbo won a top spot in a police skills competition.

Enbo said he had encountered orphaned children wandering in the mountains or on the streets. In 2001, after retiring from the police, he worked in construction and gradually raised funds to launch a club aimed at helping orphans.

Enbo said his club had trained hundreds of young people, and that some of them had become members of the special police or had fought their way through the ranks.

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