The “Sport” of Cockfighting

They say when visiting a cannibal village you should walk with a limp to appear unappetizing. I kept this in mind as i walked towards the arena. My attempts to be nonchalant betrayed by that insecure posture typical of a visitor out of their element. This was, after all, unexplored territory. And any sport that revolves around death demands to be approached with trepidation. The crowd gathering before me shot tense eyes in my direction. No doubt they Online cockfighting were already possessed by the smell of oncoming slaughter. I hesitated, but the cackling of roosters urged me forward, their song like a battle cry bouncing between the slow moving air.

This is the cockfight. An ancient “sport” based on animal cruelty, betting, three-inch razor sharp blades, and a blind servitude to the male beast instinct. I took on the demeanor of a Japanese hotel clerk and politely melted in with the crowd. With five dollars and a barely perceivable nod I was allowed entrance into the small arena. The crowd settled online Cockfighting game upon the plywood bleachers. I took my place ringside, next to the elevated dirt circle surrounded in plexiglass.

Cockfighting is a centuries-old sport that finds its roots in ancient China. Now illegal on most English speaking soils, residents of Kansai can place their bets after a short three-hour hop to Saipan Island; where cock fighting is not just a sport, but also a serious business. Up to ten thousand dollars is bet on each fight, and most of the trainers make a handsome living cultivating their birds for victory. The birds are raised from the egg, which are usually imported from places like Jumping Goat, Alabama. The “Gamecocks” as they come to be called, are well fed and countless hours are spent on their training. “Training? ” I said. I couldn’t imagine a bandana-laced chicken jumping up steps and dodging rolling coconuts, but the locals swore they all train like prizefighters. “You know I know cockfighting, ” said an amiable local. “The training is very intense. Every morning the trainer chases the cock around the farm for sometimes as long as an hour! ” “Ah” I said. My face must have hinted to my chagrin. He continued: “Often the owners buy weak roosters to be used as bait. The gamecocks get to kill them for practice. This provides them with confidence and a simulation of real conditions”.

Prior to their entrance into the ring the gamecocks are armed with a three-inch razor sharp blade attached to the battle-claw on their left foot. They are then enticed by a teaser bird, read their last rites, and when the owner feels the bird is adequately primed, brought out onto the “dance floor”. The two birds are first held within inches of each other. They calmly lean forward to examine their enemy, the floods of rage held at bay by some kind of intrinsic restraint. After identifying their target, theyre set down upon facing chalk marks, as in a sumo ring. The spectators tense up like dogs before a hunt. The referee gives a nod, and then the birds are released. The crowd lets lose a simultaneous gasp, but nothing happens. The birds walk around the ring like on a stroll through the garden. The referee dances and weaves to avoid their axis of advance, but they’re not advancing. They wander within six inches of each other but it seems the humans have been outwitted. Just when one of the drunken tourists wonders if his five bucks was better spent at the strip bar, BOOM! The birds start jumping and slashing for the jugular. They simultaneously leap at each other with astonishing speed. In a blur their blades arc left to right like finely honed swords. A fistful of feathers shoot towards the sky, then their bodies collide with a hollow thud and come down hard upon the dirt. In an instant they are airborne again, their strong legs propelling them skyward as their wings pump violently above the dust swirling ring. Again and again they slash. In a matter of moments both birds are emergency room-worthy. Blood trickles to the dust, limbs begin to quake, but they fight on. Their collective passion seems to push them beyond reason. Then in an instant, a blade hits a bulls-eye. The victim is already limp before he hits the ground.

During the fight there is no sound but the swooshing of feathers. It echoes off the plexiglass, multiplies, then hovers over you as if a hawk has seized your head and is attempting to claim it as his prize. After the fights they line up the dead roosters on the bench you’re sitting on, and the owner who spent a year and a half raising the bird is apathetic to all but the bet he placed. Cockfight aficionados are a very unique breed.

Halfway through the third match I snapped off a picture. Suddenly every eye in the arena fell upon me in anger. I looked around like a kid who has no idea what he just did, but he knows its bad. “The flash from your camera blinds the birds” a voice said. I offered a sheepish “sorry”, but it found no purchase among the shaking heads. It looked like I was going to be the next one thrown into the ring so i made a swift exit. As i strode through the parking lot I glanced back at the arena with wry reflection. Placing my own bet that in today’s world, “sports” such as cockfighting will not be able to survive their own need for death.

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