– Gameness til the End
Cockfights generate million-som bets and thousands of viewers in Tashkent and Samarqand.
The suburban district Mikond, outside of Tashkent, is home to underground cockfights.
Every weekend people from all over the country descend on the area to gather around rings to watch roosters slaughter each other.
The crowd’s uproar usually drowns out the plaintive moaning of the wounded birds. The spectators’ ardor knows no limits here and victories are the end goal. Up to one thousand can gather to watch around twenty pairs of roosters pecking each other to death.
“My rooster brought me five million soms”
Farkhod came especially from Qashqadaryo, where he has cultivated a special fighting breed. His birds are aggressive by nature, have long legs and necks, and a lot of muscle. They can weigh up to 4-5 kg.
“My rooster has won five fights and brought me five million soms (2,300 USD) already. He has new fighters to beat today,” Farkhod told Uznews.net correspondent.
Another participant with a stake in the fight, Murod, has been preparing his bird, Anton, for the past month. Training as well as a high-calorie diet are important.
“We feed our roosters meat, eggs, beans, corn, and butter. Then they train. We let them rest for three or four days before a fight. Then they are ready to fight,” says Murod.
Murod inherited his passion for cockfighting from his father and grandfather.
Three thousand USD for a fighting cock
The upkeep of a fighting cock is not cheap. The egg of a fighting breed can cost from five to ten thousand dollars, while a fighting cock itself can be sold for two or three thousand dollars.
Professional breeders keep between twenty to thirty fighting cocks at a time.
Bets can reach 20-25 million soms (7,000-15,000 USD) per fight – equivalent to the price of a a car in Uzbekistan.
Instead of pool, darts, cards, and casinos
Cockfights are an ancient tradition in Uzbekistan. Historian Ibragim Abdurakhmonov has written extensively on the subject.
“A great ruler in the Middle Ages, Khusein Bajkar, wrote in his diary about similar spectacles taking place during his time,” Bajkar tells an Uznews.net correspondent.
The historian adds, however, that today’s gambling element changes the essence of the tradition.”
It is possible that the fights are so popular in Uzbekistan because card games, pool, and casinos are against the law, whereas cock and dog fights are not.
Tashkent and Samarqand are the two major centers of this bloody pastime with participants being drawn from all over the country.
A cockfight consists of a series of short rounds, not unlike those in a boxing match, and lasts until either one bird is dead or the owners agree upon a draw.
Both Murod’ and Farkhod’s roosters met in the ring that day and aggressively fought each other, doling out precise hard blows. The audience hold their breath, biding their time, hoping for a major win.
After ten to fifteen minutes there was still no winner and the two breeders agree upon a draw. Their fight roosters will no doubt be back in this ring soon.