Cockfighting in Bali: Secret Hidden in Plain Sight

With the Indonesian government banning cockfighting, it has become an underground spectacle in Bali, Indonesia.


Cockfight became a well-kept secret in the island. But it is a secret that hides in plain sight and open for everyone to see as every roadside in Bali is littered with upturned baskets with one common resident – a game fowl.

Technically, cockfighting can still be done in Indonesia for religious purposes. In a way, cockfighting has a ceremonial aspect in it. The blood spilled in fights is considered a sacrifice, the same way in temple ceremonies.

Finding a cockfight in Bali is an adventure in itself. You have to be willing to find it, for you to see one. Getting a tip on where to watch a cockfight is perhaps the most challenging part as Balinese can be suspicious of strangers who ask too many questions.

But once you earn their trust, you can get access to certain barns, jungle clearings and temples where cockfights are done. Cockfights can gather 10 to 1,000 men, standing on terraces around a dusty ring. Tension is always high with money and machismo on the line.

Animal welfare groups condemn cockfighting in Bali, but the Indonesian government has implemented a status quo that allows people to do cockfighting for religious purposes.

If cockfighting is considered a national sport in Puerto Rico, maybe we can say that cockfighting is like a religion in Bali.

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