cockfight by Poultry Radio

Unveiling the World of Cockfighting: Tradition, Controversy, and Beyond

If you’ve ever been curious about the timeless sport that has fascinated generations in the Philippines, then this blog post is just for you!

Being a rooster often leads to a sad fate: Many are ground up alive shortly after hatching in the egg industry, while others are cruelly forced into deadly cockfights. Even though cockfighting is prohibited in all U.S. states and territories, it still occurs, and it’s legal in Cuba, most of Mexico, much of the Caribbean, and in some Asian countries too especially the Philippines. Keep reading to understand the various aspects of cockfighting and how you can support birds that are compelled to fight for entertainment.

What is Cockfighting?

Cockfighting is also known as Sabong. Cockfighting is a long-standing tradition where two or more specially bred birds, known as gamecocks, are placed in an enclosed pit to compete for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. A typical cockfight can last from several minutes to over half an hour and often ends at the death of one or both birds.

What is Cockfighting?

The competition continues until one rooster is no longer able to fight, often resulting in injuries such as punctured lungs, pierced eyes, and broken bones. Unfortunately, the losing bird is often disposed of, even if it is still alive. The victorious rooster’s wounds are usually quickly stitched up without further treatment.

Cockfighting Spurs / Cockfighting Blades

Cockfighting spurs refer to sharp blades fastened to the bird’s legs. In a cockfight, the birds are placed in a pen facing each other and often utilize these spurs to harm or disable their opponent. These spurs are so dangerous that handlers are often slashed by their bird.

cockfighting blades

The metal spurs, or gaffs, are similar to ice picks with their curved blades. During a match, the two cocks use these spurs to attack each other. Due to the sharpness of the spurs, the cocks may suffer serious physical injuries. Although some roosters can recover from these injuries, unfortunately, they often do not survive a match.

Natural Cockfighting

In their natural environments, roosters engage in fights to establish their social order, defend their territory, and secure mating privileges. Severe injuries are uncommon as the defeated bird will gracefully retreat. After a brief scuffle, they resume their activities, happily foraging and dustbathing alongside their flock.

Cockfighting in the Philippines

Surprising Truths about Cockfighting

Birds are armed with spikes or Artificial spurs

In the wild, roosters naturally engage in fights to claim territory or mating rights. However, serious injuries are rare as they usually retreat and concede defeat without causing harm. In contrast, in cockfighting arenas, roosters are equipped with blades or spikes on their feet, known as “gaffs,” which can lead to severe injuries, especially if the opposing bird cannot evade the attacks.

Cockfighting spurs

Before the fights, birds are groomed.

During their training and preparation, roosters typically have their combs and wattles (the skin under their beak and on top of their heads) trimmed to prevent injury during fights. Some also have their spurs removed from their legs so that sharp gaffs can be added.

Cockfighting is all about survival.

Cockfighting is a harsh reality for fighting roosters. From the moment they hatch, these birds face a tough existence. They undergo an extensive training process to separate the weakest from the strongest and most aggressive ones. Those who don’t meet the standards are disposed of, while the ones considered fit to fight inevitably face a painful and brutal fate in the arena.

human cockfighting

Common Chicken Breeds used for Cockfighting

There are many chicken breeds that are used for cockfighting. A few of them are:

  • Shamo
  • Malay Gamefowl
  • Albany
  • Lemon Fowl
  • Radio
  • Asil or Aseel
  • Sweater
  • American Gamefowl
  • Old English Game
  • Sumatra or Sumatera

Where is cockfighting legal in the world?

Cockfighting is allowed in some Southeast Asian countries. Like, in Burma or the Philippines.

In the Philippines, they are extremely popular. Every city has special arenas where fighting roosters compete to the death.

In addition to being an exciting and popular sport, Filipinos can make money by betting on it.

There, this sport is known as “sabong.”

With the rapid advancement of technology, there are now various online platforms for e-sabong that offer online fight broadcasts as well as the ability to place bets. Because of the coronavirus epidemic, it is impossible to travel to the Philippines to watch the fights live, leaving us with only online platforms.

Cockfighting in the Philippines

In the Philippines, cockfighting is considered legal under certain regulations. The Philippine government cherishes it as a part of our cultural heritage and permits licensed operators to conduct cockfights in specially designated arenas or derby pits. These licensed operators must adhere to the strict guidelines established by the Philippine Gamefowl Commission (PGC) to guarantee fair play and animal welfare.

chicken cockfighting 4 by Poultry Radio

The cockfighting industry in the Philippines is significant, generating billions of pesos annually and providing livelihoods for thousands of breeders, trainers, handlers, and even spectators who place bets on their favorite roosters.

In the Philippines, it feels like every village has a cockpit known as “the ring,” and it seems like almost every man (as this is mainly a male activity) owns at least a few birds.

Despite being legal in the Philippines, cock fighting (sabong) is still a topic of controversy both within the country and globally. Animal rights activists believe that it encourages animal cruelty and should be completely outlawed. On the other hand, supporters maintain that with the right regulations and ethical standards in place, sabong can flourish while upholding animal welfare.

is cockfighting legal?

The World Slasher Cup

The World Slasher Cup, known as the Olympics of cockfighting, is held twice a year in Manila, Philippines. This 10-day event is organized in a 25,000-seat arena. The event culminates with the grand finals on Feb. 7 and attracts thousands of people, who gather to appreciate the beauty and intensity of the matches taking place in the center ring. The name “Slasher” refers to the three-inch-long, razor-sharp blades attached to the birds’ feet.

During the Slasher Cup, two owners placed bets on their birds, with one being considered the underdog and the other the favorite. Those bets set the baseline for practically everyone in the arena to join in. The action is lively, with green-vested officials taking bets on behalf of owners and ordinary gamblers making or taking bets among themselves, all using a system of hand signals. Crumpled bundles of currency fly over the heads of the fans as bets get paid off after about.

chicken cockfighting 3 by Poultry Radio

Joining the contest requires a fee of 155,000 pesos per participant, who brings nine birds for the event. The competition is hosted by a group known as Pintakasi of Champions, with support from local feed and supplement companies, as well as the Petron gas station chain.

Unofficially, the champion of the current tournament is rumored to have earned approximately 10 million pesos. By comparison, the winner of last year’s Slasher Cup reportedly took home 30 million pesos.

Why Cock Fighting is Illegal in Most of the Countries?

Animal Welfare Concerns

One of the primary reasons that cockfighting is prohibited in most countries is because of concerns for animal welfare. Many nations have passed laws outlawing cockfighting on ethical grounds due to the cruelty involved towards the animals.

Disease Threat

International health experts, including the World Health Organization, have noted that cockfighting has been associated with the transmission of the highly dangerous bird flu virus from birds to humans through contact with blood and feces.

According to a report by The Washington Post, during one cockfight, bird owners were observed cleaning the blood off their birds using their bare hands. They then proceeded to stitch the wounds around the birds’ eyes. The report also mentioned that in some cases, the injuries were so extensive that owners had to relieve the swelling by sucking out the blood orally.

Dive deeper: Most common chicken disease

The Criminal Connection

Cockfighting isn’t just about mistreating animals; it’s also tied to other illegal activities like gambling, theft, drug-related offenses, and even more serious crimes. For example, a tragic incident involving three murders took place at a cockfight in Texas. Shockingly, children are often around at these events, and being exposed to this violence can desensitize them to the pain of others and foster an unhealthy interest in violence.

Ways to Support Roosters Involved in Cockfights

If you want to help roosters forced to fight, the best thing to do is to never attend a cockfight. If you suspect illegal cockfighting is happening, please report it to the local authorities. Cockfights only happen because they’re profitable for those who organize them.

If you reside in a state where having and trading birds for cockfighting or attending cockfights is still allowed, we encourage you to get in touch with your state legislators and kindly request them to align the cockfighting law with the state’s dogfighting law. Please use this link to take action. Thank you for your help!


What age can a rooster fight?

Aggression usually starts to show in young roosters once they reach puberty, usually anytime after four months old. When they reach sexual maturity, a surge of testosterone brings about significant changes in behavior for some.

What to do if a rooster attacks you?

When the rooster comes charging at you, just hold your arms up and move them around like this, I flap mine! This will make you look big and strong to him. Take a few steps or even jog towards him. But remember, don’t walk away from him or turn your back until he’s backed down.

Is cockfighting legal?

chicken cockfighting 1 by Poultry Radio

Cockfighting laws vary by location. In the U.S., it’s illegal in every state, with most states considering it a felony. California may prosecute it as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Additionally, it’s a federal crime under the United States Animal Welfare Act. In the Philippines, the legality is ambiguous, with permits available but also some instances of unauthorized cockfighting.

What is the penalty for cockfighting in the US?

If you attend a fight, you could face up to one year in prison. Bringing a child under 16 years old to a fight can result in a three-year prison sentence. Additionally, involvement in the trade of tools used in cockfighting may lead to a five-year prison term.

Why do roosters always fight?

chicken cockfighting 3 by Poultry Radio

Roosters engaging in conflicts are typically seeking to establish their position within the flock and to determine who will have priority with the hens. They may also react aggressively towards humans or other animals if they perceive them as a threat to the safety of the flock.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *