Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cockfighting in Ecuador

Why did the chicken cross the road? To hoof you in the guts and peck out your eyes, you slag. Be warned - this is the brutal world of cockfighting.

Bear baiting, bull fighting, even fox hunting are slowly being outlawed in Europe, it's political correctness gone mad. Thankfully in Ecuador common sense still reigns and the discerning gent can witness the mortal and bloody combat of trained animal killers without interference from “the man”. Cock fighting is big news in Ecuador – not quite the Premier League but certainly more popular than greyhound racing.

Prize cock fighter
El Tyson: Weighing in at 6lbs this poultry punisher has won seven out of his last ten fights by peck out in the first round

But it's not really about the sport (or at least I hope it's not) it's about the gambling. In England every other shop front on our depressing high streets is a bookies – conveniently sandwiched between a Wetherspoons and a Greggs. In Ecuador there's no such thing as Ladbrookes or William Hill. Instead the working classes get their gambling fix among the squawk, feathers and brutality of a cock fight.

The valleys around Vilcabamba breed some of the hardest fighting cocks in Ecuador. They are cared for with a rare tenderness and are often guarded by sleepy, saggy-faced boxer dogs. In Vilcabamba town the cocks are staked to the ground on little leads. The best birds change hands for 1,500 dollars a pop – it's the equivalent of buying a thoroughbred race horse in English money.
Fighting cocks
El Bruno: He might look like a feathered dandy but in the ring this avian Adonis comes at his opponents like a spider monkey - his only rule: no hitting the face 

Cock fights happen every other weekend in this part of Ecuador and they attract a raucous crowd. It's no place for a lady, in fact women aren't allowed to attend.

Lucy's aunt had her own bitter experience with cocks. Her husband was addicted to cock fighting, at one stage he had about 25 of the strutting monsters staked out in his garden. He spent all of his time and money caring for his birds. Sick at his frivolous frittering and avian-obsession the aunt exacted a fitting revenge. One day, when he was out, she took the birds to market and sold them for the price of scrawny domestic chickens – about a dollar a head. These birds were trained killers so I pity the poor bugger who had to ring their necks for the sopa de pollo – they probably lost an eye.

Fighting cocks
El Cocko Loco: this featherweight psycho tips the scales at just 4lbs but what he lacks in breast meat he makes up for in dirty tricks. Just look at that steely death stare - those, Sir, are the eyes of a natural born killer

The funny thing about the fighting cocks is they look really silly. Their legs are plucked bald (presumably for aerodynamics) so it looks a bit like they're wearing tights. Also they walk very camp, a bit like Basil Fawlty's goose step. Of course, I'd never say this to their faces – they'd kick my head in.


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