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Cockfighting is a highly controversial yet widely popular blood sport that has its roots dating back 6,000 years ago. In many parts of the world, cockfights are illegal, citing animal cruelty as the main reason for the ban.
However, there are also countries where the sport enjoys a legal status. Colombia is one of the countries where cockfights are a tradition and has cultural roots. Today, we’ll be discussing how cockfighting is perceived in Colombia.
Legal Status of Cockfighting in Colombia
Cockfighting is permitted in Colombia as is gambling. The blood sport is considered to be a tradition, especially in the Caribbean region and some parts of the Andean natural region.
In August 2010, a lawsuit that sought to prohibit bullfighting and cockfighting with the argument that they constitute animal cruelty was rejected by the Constitutional Court of Colombia.
In March 2019, the same court upheld the judgment that bullfights and cockfights are a part of Colombian history and culture. The Court reiterated that animal abuse is prohibited in the country, but certain practices are cultural acts in some municipalities that must be respected.
How A Fighting Cock is Prepared For A Bout
Colombians refer to cocks as gallo, which is the Spanish term for rooster. Most rooster breeders and cockfighters in the region learned the practice from their parents and passed it on from generation to generation.
Roosters have a natural strong will to fight against all males of the same species. Owners commonly train the birds in an improvised ring. In some cases, a trainer uses a stuffed toy called la mona, which looks like a rooster. The trainer hangs the toy like a puppet inside the ring, moving it around in circles and acting as an opponent to provoke the bird. This kind of training improves the agility, attack, strength, aggression, and physical condition of the bird.
Cocks raised for fighting have a very different diet than regular chickens. The specialized diet of roosters is highly vital in maintaining their weight and stamina. Similar to boxing, gamecocks are matched up according to their weight. Additionally, the diet of a rooster determines the strength of its feet and its jumping peak during fights. Some cocks will have a number of their feathers plugged so that they sweat less and don’t tire out as much.
On fight nights, cocks are weighed and placed in categories. Cock owners and their respective teams get their own tables in the arena to prepare. The birds are fastened with carefully-crafted spurs made from tortoise shell, attached to their heels using wax, designed to kill. The preparation stage is also usually the time when gamblers can view the animals and choose which one to place their bets on.
Cock Fighting in Colombia
Cockfight arenas called gallera can be usually found in any town. The Club Gallistico San Miguel, one of the most prestigious cockfight rings in the country, is located in the capital city of Bogota. It can seat up to 1,000 spectators at any time. The Club Gallistico San Miguel also houses a bar that serves food, beer, and drinks to the audience.
Fights are, more often than not, a duel to the death. Unlike bullfighting, there is no ritual to be done before a cockfight. Just like in boxing, there is a judge to oversee the match between the two animals destined to murder each other.
Standing in the ring, the judge inspects the birds once more, looking over every detail, including how tight the sharp spur is attached to the leg of the cocks. Once satisfied, the judge sets a digital clock on the ground of the pit and another clock on the edge of the ring.
Each owner that participates in a fight steps to the center of the ring with their roosters. The fight begins once the judge gives his signal and the birds are let go. Roosters attack each other, kicking with their bladed legs. Fights can last up to 15 minutes, but it’s noted that one will hardly see full 15-minute combat.
It’s more common to see cocks quickly die from a slash to their body, blood spreading over their feathers. Others collapse in exhaustion and die slowly as their opponent finishes them off with several intense pecks.
Gambling is closely tied to cockfighting as the audience place money on the rooster they think will win. Victory comes to the spectators who put their bets on the bird left standing. At the same time, there are members of the crowd crushed because they had just lost their wagers with the death of their bet. Depending on the fight attendance, a cock owner can make over 2 million Colombian pesos if they win the match.
Cock fight events usually have men in the audience, no matter the age or status. Women, on the other hand, are rarely involved in the blood sport. Uniformed authorities can also be seen during cock fights.
Cockfighting in Colombian Literature
Colombian novelist, short story writer, and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez immortalized cockfighting in many of his works. One of his earliest novellas, No One Writes to the Colonel, features a retired colonel and his wife who have lost their son to political repression and are struggling with financial instability and poverty. The colonel trains a rooster to participate in cockfights in hopes of lifting his family out of poverty.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of Marquez’s most popular novels, also incorporates a cock fight in the beginning, which sets off the events in the novel.
For some humans, cockfighting should have been a bloodsport left in the past and should not be allowed in the present time. However, for others, like Colombians, cockfighting is a part of their culture and heritage that should be regarded with respect.
If you’re interested in knowing the legality of cockfighting in other parts of the world, check out this article.