Most days when you hear about roosters, chances are you probably first think about their ability to crow when the sun rises. That didn’t always used to be the case. Cockfighting, a sport where two roosters are thrown into mortal combat with one another, brings up the most horrible images to animal rights activists and really anyone who wants to see conditions improved for chickens. But just how far back does the practice go? It’s important to know more about what it is and what it means, so let’s take a look at the history and legacy of cockfighting.
Now, we’re not advocating for cockfighting in any way here. The practice is, without mincing words, absolutely inhumane and sickening to think about. Boxing is one thing as it requires a choice from both combatants. Cockfighting demands a chicken be raised with its sole purpose in life coming down to kill or be killed purely for entertainment. It should also be noted that cockfighting is illegal in the United States, Australia, Brazil, and the majority of Europe. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it from happening and in some countries it’s run via government control.
The life of a cockfighting rooster is not a glorious one to say the least. Typically, their wattle and comb are cut off to prevent freezing, as well as meet show standards. However, the goal is to raise a happy, healthy bird, otherwise it won’t stand a chance of winning you any money. Well, “happy” is the wrong word. They are raised to be content but extremely aggressive toward any other male chickens. The talons on the back of their legs may be removed, though more commonly they’re sharpened or replaced by metal spikes or razors, an act that can lead to injury and death for handlers as well.
Where the sport starts is still hazy, though it appeared in Ancient Greece between 524 and 460 B.C. However, it may even go back as far as the Indus Valley Civilization a thousand or more years prior to that. It was mainly big in Asia and remains that way, though the other big hotspot for cockfighting today is Latin America. The sport itself grew in popularity over time and became huge in both England and the United States, though it is currently banned in both nations.
The strange thing is, a lot of countries still engage in the practice due to a cultural reason, and even stranger is that there are places where a cockfighting match will be as popular as baseball or football. The activity itself isn’t entirely about just seeing two chickens peck and scratch each other to death but rather to experience some shared cultural event. It’s when illegal gambling is introduced that many nations have a problem.
Looking at the practice from a Westerner perspective, it’s hard to feel anything but anger at the thought. Then again, I’ve lived a different life with a different culture. I’m perfectly okay with eating a chicken sandwich, but raising roosters to fight to the death is something I can’t condone, and I’m sure many people out there would call me a hypocrite. It’s a touchy subject for most but it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, for better or worse.
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