– Gameness til the End
By Manolo Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:42:00 01/12/2009
Filed Under: Sports Events
The biggest ever World Slasher Cup since 1963 awaits cockfighting enthusiasts as businessman-sportsman Jorge “Nene” Araneta announced a strong field of nearly 200 entries that will vie for fame and honor from Jan. 19 to 24 at the Araneta Coliseum.
“I am personally inviting you to come and enjoy the fights at the Big Dome,” said the dapper derby promoter and coliseum owner.
From an average of 60 entries to a high of 150 per staging, this year’s number is a cinch to enter the record books as the biggest ever in the history of the World Slasher Cup.
Considered as the “toughest cockfighting event in the world,” this annual international 8-cock derby will be extended from the usual three-day format to five days.
Glo Avena, a Big Dome old-timer, said elimination matches will be held on Jan. 19 to 20, the semifinals on Jan. 21 and 22 and the finals on Jan. 24.
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The 35-strong foreign contingent will be headed by former champions Ray Alexander of Alabama and Roger Roberts of Georgia. Also seeing action are many-time Manila visitors Chuck Berry of Oklahoma and Mike Formosa of Hawaii, Richard McCormick of Canada and Australia’s Greg Berin.
On the other hand, a full complement of the Philippines’ cockfighting Who’s Who is hell-bent to win the World Slasher Cup, the most-coveted prize in the sport.
“We have proven in recent past that Filipino cocker-breeders are at par with their American counterparts,” said Rey Briones, a newcomer who surprised everyone by winning the 2003 World Slasher Cup in a tie with veteran Matt Bitanga.
“It’s time to break the colonial mentality that imported cocks or pure bloodlines, are unbeatable,” he stressed. “That’s not true anymore.”
He said that local crossbreeds are performing better in recent years and that imported cocks are no longer a guarantee that they will dominate the big-time derbies here.
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In winning the World Slasher Cup, Briones only fielded locally bred fighting cocks, yet he beat the pure bloodlines of famous American cocker-breeders Dan Gray, Carol NeSmith, Ray Alexander and Roger Roberts.
Now breeding his own signature bloodlines—the Spartan Reds and Greys—in his modest farms in Masbate and Bacolod City, Briones has joined past World Slasher Cup champions, including former Ambassador Danding Cojuangco, Nene Araneta, the late James Chiongbian, Peping Cojuangco and his partner Esting Teopaco, former Rep. Rudy Albano, hotelier Biboy Enriquez, Pampanga’s pride Jun and Rudy Jingco, Eddie Araneta, Dickie Lim, Patrick Antonio, William Co, lawyer Rudy Salud and Wilson Ong.
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The steady stream of top American cocker-breeders was brought here by Filipino cockfighting legends such as D.O. Plaza, Dr. A.P. Reyes, Jose Lanuza, James Chiongbian, Ramon Mitra, Ricardo Silverio, the Lacsons of Bacolod, the Cojuangcos of Tarlac and the Yulos and Montinolas of Negros.
These true-blue pioneers were responsible for infusing the bloodlines that improved local stocks, thus making the authentic Filipino sport of cockfighting more competitive.
Among the names familiar to Filipino sabungeros were American cockfighting greats like Duke Hulsey, Joe Goode, Billy Abbot, Oscar Aikins, Billy Ruble, Richard Bates, Dan Gray, Carol NeSmith, Bob Howard, Ray Alexander and Tom Wilson.
Meanwhile, I am glad to learn that the cockfighting calendar is now bursting at the seams, with several international derbies lined up for this new year.
Among them are the three-day National Cockers Alliance World Slasher Championship Derby at the Ynares Center in Pasig City which gets going tomorrow, and other international derbies slated in Metro Manila cockpits.