Screenshot of the video capturing the fight. /Southern Metropolis Daily Photo
Teenage orphans from southwest China's Sichuan Province who were discovered to be cage fighting at a mixed martial arts club will be brought back to school following a preliminary investigation.
Authorities launched a probe after they suspected the club was making money by exploiting the underage cage fighters, reported The Paper, citing local education authorities.
The case came to light after a video featuring two 14-year-old orphans fiercely fighting surrounded by a crowd of adult onlookers went viral on social media.
It sparked concerns over whether the club had deprived the children the right to education and it was using them for commercial shows.
Officials from the Education Bureau in Butuo County in Liangshan said that two teenagers from the region would be returned to their boarding school from the fight club which reportedly "sought exorbitant profits by taking the juveniles for commercial competitions," an official statement the bureau sent to all schools in the county said.
An investigation by local police in Chengdu is also underway, according to Lin Shucheng, Party chief of the Liangshan Prefecture, adding that the club should be brought to justice if it is proven it violated laws related to compulsory education.
The MMA club was set up in 2000 by retired Special Weapons and Tactics member En Bo who is also an orphan.
Since 2000, the club has adopted over 400 children who are either orphans or were left-behind in the countryside.