Cockfighting is more than just a sport in Colombia. It is a passion shared by thousands of enthusiasts who religiously gather in cockpit arenas scattered all over the country.
Just in Bogota, the country’s capital, there are 11 cockpit arenas hosting fights everyday except Tuesday.
A 53-year-old arena known as Club Gallistico San Miguel proudly stands on Calle 77, where men set their cocks on a plastic table. Fights take place there every Wednesday and Friday nights until there are no more cocks to fight. For a general seating, one has to shell out 15,000 Colombian pesos for a seat. But if you want to see every peck and strike of the flying claws, 40,000 to 50,000 Colombian pesos will give you a ringside seat.
Passionately clipping game fowls feathers for greater mobility, handlers then will sharpen their claws with a knife, wrap their toes in sports tape, and attach sharp razors on their legs. For final touch, superstitious managers will give potion to the game fowls, hoping it will magically ensure victory.
Inside the ring, men would play cards and socialize until the game fowls are released from their cages. Spectators then would watch closely with high spirit while game fowls peck and blow each other. But of course, once they hear a good bet, they would surely entertain it.
To secure a bet, no paper, lawyers, or stamps are needed. A simple nod is enough. Bettors close their deal with the word “gallero,” which means good as gold.
Fights have a twelve minute time limit but cocks will quickly die with a slice on their throat; others may collapse in exhaustion, and pecks from their opponent will kill them slowly. In case of a tie, they will be matched on another day.
Cruel it may be to others, but cockfight enthusiasts see the sport as an enlightened form of survival of the fittest.
Mr. Gutierrez, an owner of 30 fighting cocks said: “When two cocks meet in real life, they will always try to kill each other over mating rights.”