What it is?
A cockfight is a blood sport between two roosters (cocks), or more accurately gamecocks, held in a ring called a cockpit. The first documented use of the word gamecock, denoting use of the cock as to a “game”, a sport, pastime or entertainment, was recorded in 1646, after the term “cock of the game” used by George Wilson, in the earliest known book on the sport of cockfighting in The Commendation of Cocks and Cock Fighting in 1607.
Cock fighting is said to be the world’s oldest spectator sport. It goes back 6,000 years in Persia.
According to one author, there is evidence that cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Encyclopædia Britannica (2008) holds:
The sport was popular in ancient times in India, China, Persia, and other Eastern countries and was introduced into Ancient Greece in the time of Themistocles (c. 524–460 BC). For a long time the Romans affected to despise this “Greek diversion”, but they ended up adopting it so enthusiastically that the agricultural writer Columella (1st century AD) complained that its devotees often spent their whole patrimony in betting at the side of the pit.
The significance of the original name of Mohenjo-daro inferring that the city was “the city of the cock” takes on great significance if taking into account that it has been claimed that the chicken was domesticated in southern China in 6000 BC. However, according to a recent study, “it is not known whether these birds made much contribution to the modern domestic fowl. Chickens from the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley (2500-2100 BC) may have been the main source of diffusion throughout the world.” “Within the Indus Valley, indications are that chickens were used for sport and not for food (Zeuner 1963)” and that by 1000 BC they had assumed “religious significance”.
Some additional insight into the pre-history of European and American secular cockfighting may be taken from the The London Encyclopaedia:
At first cockfighting was partly a religious and partly a political institution at Athens; and was continued for improving the seeds of valor in the minds of their youth, but was afterwards perverted both there and in the other parts of Greece to a common pastime, without any political or religious intention.
The image of a fighting rooster has been found the 6th century BC seal of Jaazaniah, discovered during the excavation of the biblical city of Mizpah in Benjamin, near Jerusalem. It is one of the earliest depictions of a fighting rooster ever recovered. This depiction is consistent with the remains of these birds found at other Israelite Iron Age sites, when the rooster was used as a fighting bird; they are also pictured on other seals from the period as a symbol of ferocity, such as on the one engraved on a late-7th-century BC red jasper seal inscribed “Jehoahaz, son of the king”, which likely belonged to Jehoahaz of Judah “while he was still a prince during his father’s life.”
Cockfighting in the Philippines
Cockfighting in the Philippines is called Sabong. There are illegal and legal cockfights. Legal cockfights are held on cockpits every week. Illegal cockfights, called tupada or tigbakay, are held in secluded cockpits where the authorities would not be able to operate raids. In both kind of cockfights, knives or gaffs are used. There are two kinds of knives used in Philippine cockfighting. The single edge blade (use in derbies) and double edged blades, lengths of knives also vary. All knives are attached on the left leg of the cock. But depending on the agreement between owners, blades can be attached on the right leg, or even on both legs. Sabong and illegal tupada, are judged by a referee called sentensyador orkoyme, whose verdict is final and not subject to any appeal. Bets are usually taken by the kristo, known as such for his outstretched hands when calling out wagers from the audience and skillfully doing so purely from memory.
Contrary to popular beliefs Cockfighting was not introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish. Cockfighting was already flourishing as recorded by Antonio Pigafetta the Italian recorder of Magellan. The Philippines which is a south east Asian nation shares the culture of the Indians and the south east Asian nations in which the jungle fowl(bankivoid) and Oriental type chickens are endemic.
There’s a sport to it. We’re not just out here trying to kill a rooster. There’s a sport to it. All of the chicken breeders are friends. All of the chicken breeders have ‘gentlemen’s agreements’, you know what I mean? It’s a fair sport. There’s thousand and thousands of dollars or pesos that are being gambled and spent on chickens everyday.