Cockfighting in Bogota, Colombia

Posted on 21. Jun, 2012 by in colombia

After seeing the bullfights in Bogota I saw another blood sport: cockfighting. Cockfighting is different than bullfighting in that humans don’t participate. The cocks are thrown together in a ring to battle to the death. These gamecocks are naturally aggressive. The training they receive is to allow humans to handle them, as they attack everything.

Unlike bullfighting at the Plaza de toros de Santamaria, a Bogota landmark, cockfighting isn’t as visible. I had to ask around to find a show. The Mick knew of a place near Chapinero. He led our same bullfighting crew to the neighborhood northwest of Calle 72 and Caracas (just a couple blocks from the recent assassination attempt on former minister Fernando Londoño that left 5 dead).

The place, called San Miguel, looked like a normal lunch restaurant. I wasn’t sure if cockfighting was legal or not. Maybe this was an under-the-table deal, for which we had to say the right words to get in. However, there was a (closed) box office to the left of the kitchen. Later, we saw uniformed police at the show. There was nothing discrete.

We ordered lunch and beers. Paul went out for a bottle of aguardiente. We were good and drunk when the box office opened. Tickets were less than 20,000 pesos. With our ticket we gained access to the back, where there was a bar selling snacks, beer, and aguardiente. Various Colombians were combing, trimming, and grooming their cocks.

We waited for what seemed like an hour before taking seats. Here’s a 20 second panorama of the pit:

Then the fights began. There’s no ritual like in bullfighting. Cockfighting revolves around gambling. It’s a working class affair to get drunk and gamble on cocks. From what I saw, there’s no real handicapping either. In sports betting for example, you can study enough to get a good idea who’s going to win. The more studious sports betters can make a living as bookies. Cockfighting, on the other hand, is more like craps or Be Like Me (flipping coins) – pure luck.

Another difference in bullfighting, whether or not you like the idea, is that it’s genuinely entertaining. Cockfighting is genuinely boring. The cocks peck with their beaks, occasionally jumping and flapping their wings in an attempt to knock the opponent down and stand on him. Once standing on the other, he can peck away at will.

Even the quick fights are boring. We left before the show was over. This was a fast fight (hence the least boring):

For the faint of heart, cockfighting may be worse than bullfighting in one respect: no mercy. In every fight I saw, the winning cock had the clear upper hand for a long time before finally killing the other. The other just runs around the ring trying to escape while the winner pursues him, slowly pecking away until he can’t stand and killing him.

Here’s an 8 second example of that. I chose this video because the killing cock has white feathers, so you can see the blood under his mouth.

Paul saw a show in Puerto Rico where they attach razors under the cocks’ feet, which send blood flying when they step on opponents, and make for shorted fights. There was blood on the feathers in this show, but no blood flying. Paul wasn’t impressed with the cockfighting in Bogota.

Here are two more fights, each lasting the average duration of the cockfights I saw.

This next one shows the preparation techniques used by the cocks’ owners. I don’t know what they’re doing, but like in the bullfighting piece, I’m hoping someone can share their knowledge in the comments. I especially don’t know what they’re doing with the lemon.

As I said, the show’s not worth seeing. The food, however, was delicious. I’ve been more than critical of Colombian cuisine and specifically ACPM. But these two plates demonstrate ACPM done right!

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8 Responses to “Cockfighting in Bogota, Colombia”

  1. Rawley

    21. Jun, 2012

    Good article Colin. I do not know a thing about Cock Fighting in Colombia, but my grandfather taught me about how they used to do it here. He grew up in the South and a few things that they did (maybe different from there)

    1. Weight classes – In some cases they would have banty rooster division, grande division etc.

    2. I think you can save your rooster here in the States. A real “game” rooster usually doesn’t run off, but if you’re rooster runs away for a certain time limit you can call the fight and take your rooster home to fight another day.

    3. The Spur – Here they can attach a little Talon behind the leg, which I’ve heard referred to as a spur. It can be sharp, like the one that Paul saw in PR or it can be like a dull metal stud used for knocking the other rooster around.

    4. I do think in certain parts of the Southern US and in Mexico the train them like you would a game fighter. Like a little gerbil wheel that they run the rooster on, I’ve heard people say they have sparring masks and protective gloves for the claws for safer fights. Keep them fighting and busy, but without the possibility of tearing each other apart. Feed it different kinds of foods to beef it up or even make it more aggressive too.

  2. Carlito

    22. Jun, 2012

    Did they include the loser cock on the ACPM menu? ja ja

    Cockfighting is also popular in asian countries, and there is an interesting thesis about how this could be related to the spread of bird flu because, perhaps you didn’t see it, when the cock is spitting too much blood the trainer literally suck the blood out of the beak.

    I thought they used blades, in fact in your videos ti seems like they have.

    My grandfather had fighting cocks, it was popular all around Colombia because, like boxing, you can rise a little fortune with a good fighter while investing relatively little at its training. You could read the excellent short novel from Garcia Marquez: El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba, which depicts some of this cockfighting culture.

  3. Colin

    22. Jun, 2012

    @ Rawley – I did about zero research for this article. All I know came from the Wikipedia articles, so thanks for the extra info!

    @ Carlito – I thought that about my buddy’s chicken plate. How fresh was that meat? 🙂

    Also, I had a 2000 peso copy of El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba but I LOST IT. Damn!

  4. Twenty

    23. Jun, 2012

    “Like boxing”, eh?

    I’m always a little surprised that there aren’t more top-flight Colombian boxers. There’s Edison Miranda, of course, who was a solid contender and a terror at MW, but the country doesn’t seem to produce fighters the way, say, Argentina does. (What is it about the Argies, anyway? They may be effete bastards, but their fighters are surreally tough.)

    Granted, if it weren’t for that unpleasantness in 1903, Colombia could claim Duran.

  5. Mike

    23. Jun, 2012

    Cockfighting is much crueler than bullfighting. When the bullfighter’s skillfull, the kill is relatively humane. In cockfighting, the poor, dumb animals just maul each other to death while the spectators yell and cheer.

    Bullfighting’s other redeeming quality is that the man is taking risks, unlike cockfighting.

  6. Rawley

    25. Jun, 2012

    Twenty – You’re right Argentina has some decent boxers, but nothing compared to Mexico or Puerto Rico. Mexico has bar none the toughest fighters in Latin America IMO.

    And I don’t just mean those who win, but those that rumble and really get grimey in the ring. Mexico has my vote.

  7. John

    07. Jan, 2016

    You should be ashamed of yourself dude. We may not get everything right here in the US, but our laws against animal cruelty are justified and humane.

  8. Harry

    14. Jan, 2016

    I saw a match at an estedero in Itagui. It was boring after a bit. The loser was taken by the owner before it was killed. They went to a backroom where it might have died later, because it did look bad. I don’t need to see another event.

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