(the Author is trying to be neutral but she uses brutal to describe cockfighting.)
– Gameness til the End
Kalai Selvi Arivalagan
Jul 5, 2009
Cockfighting as a sport has a long history. The history of cockfighting goes back before the time of Christ. In fact, it is said to have commenced in Asia over three million years ago. In many countries the fighting cock was considered sacred. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans associated it with Mercury, Mars and Apollo. In Sumatra, they worship fighting cock and a temple was also built for it. Cock fighting took place in these temples, and once the fight was over, the dead bird would be offered to the gods. It was soaked in a golden bowl filled with spices and gums, then burned on the altar. Its ashes were then preserved in another golden pot.
Julius Caesar, the emperor of Rome was said to have really enjoyed this sport, and he introduced it to the English. The English liked it so much that cockfighting became the national sport. They even built schools that were dedicated to this sport. It finally declined when Queen Victoria decreed that cockfighting should be banned. Cockfighting was popular in the United States as well, and some of the most famous American presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were fans of the sport. Abraham Lincoln is said to have received the nickname “Honest Abe” because he was known for presiding over cockfights fairly.
Cockfighting existed in Spain, though there are no concrete details about how it reached there. It could have been introduced by the Phoenicians who were well known travelers, or by the Moors. Cockfighting can be seen in Oviedo, Madrid, Barcelona, France, Belgium, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Haiti, Italy and Malaysia. Breeders from the Philippines travel to Spain to buy birds that have been ideally bred, and many of the Filipino gamecocks have a strain of the Spanish birds.
Birds used in this sport are bred to be aggressive, and some are given drugs to achieve this effect. Only male cocks or roosters are used because they are very territorial. The birds go through months of training prior to a fight which includes running long obstacle courses as well as having practice fights with other cocks. Some harsh chemicals are also used on the birds to toughen up their skin. Just before the fight begins, the trainer plucks off all the feathers, leaving only those that cover the wings, tail and head. The combs below the cock’s beak which are called wattles are also cut off, so that they will not be torn off during the fight. Trainers and breeders also keep detailed accounts of the roosters’ family and fighting history as well as their medical records. Cockfighting in New Mexico is a tradition and they are held in resort regions and shipping ports on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The fights are held during Independence Day or Christmas day celebrations. They are held in a pit which is painted on one side in green color and red on the other. Trainers usually bring more than one bird, and they take them to the judges who decide on the birds that will compete. Before the fight begins, the owners throw in the birds and let them perform a mock attack. This is done to aggravate the birds, as well as give the spectators a good idea about which bird to bet on.
Razor sharp blades that have been cleaned by rubbing a lime across are tied to the cock’s back claw. Before the fight begins, the judges check the blades for poison. The fight has to go on until one of the birds die. The fights are brutal and bloody, and the loser is thrown into the trash once the fight is over. Betting on the outcome of these fights is also popular here. If one bets on the probable winner, he wins money. Today animal right activist are against this sport. Various countries have banned it either on the basis of cruelty to animals or in opposition of gambling. While the debate between those for cockfighting and those opposed to it continues, the sport of cockfighting goes on being held with its popularity unabated among its enthusiasts.