A video of young orphaned and abandoned children fighting in a mixed martial arts club is being investigated by authorities in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The documentary video focuses on the Enbo Fight Club, which trains more than 400 children – many of whom are orphans.
According to the South China Morning Post, children as young as 12 years old can be seen in the video fighting for the club.
The club was started in 2001 by a Tibetan former police officer who wanted to keep children away from lives of crime, the Post reported.
“Some of these kids were orphans, and some had a family that was too poor to educate them,” the club’s founder said in the video.
The founder said in the interview that he is sent orphaned and “left behind” children by the Civil Affairs Bureau. However, if they do not meet the club’s standards, they are sent back to the state.
The video tracks two 14-year-old children: Xiao Long and Xiao Wu, who both lost their parents. Xiao Long said his father died and his mother had “gone,” while Xiao Wu was brought to the club by his grandmother after both his parents died.
“Here you have everything,” Xiao Wu said of the club. “Food, accommodation and clothes… If I went home, I would probably be doing some labour work, and then working a part-time job.”
One part of the video showed a trainer telling children that they can either stay at the club or fail in society.
“Some people said, ‘I give up. I want to leave. I’m going back,’ ” Dong Zhou said. “What can you do, go back home? Shepherd cattle or pigs? Or be a beggar? Or be a gangster?”
The documentary also showed a clip of coaches saying the club manages the money that is won for fighting.
Several of the children have been identified as being residents of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, a poor region in China.
The video has more than 12 million views on the Chinese video site Miaopai and thousands of comments on Sina Weibo, China’s microblogging site.