Our First Puerto Rican Cockfight


Posted by Cassie

Yesterday we saw our first official cockfight in Puerto Rico.

Cock fight
Announcement for the tournament

A while ago we had seen an announcement for a torneo de botas de pollo and our friend Papo said he loved cockfights and that we should all go. He said this was a sort of mild version of a cockfight because they put ”boots” on their spurs making the fights a little less lethal. This piqued my interest because I sort of already had some opinions about cockfighting without ever seeing it so I wanted to know how close my assumptions were to reality. Having Papo as friend has really opened up a whole different world of Puerto Rico that I’m not sure we would see otherwise.

Cockfighting or pelea de gallo really is THE sport of Puerto Rico. It is also considered a ”gentleman’s game” (de caballeros) though there was no problem with women or even children being there (still it was about 30 to 1 male/female). While things are changing a little, judging from the popularity of this event, it is unlikely that this tradition will be leaving the island any time soon.

Pelea de gallos

When we entered the cancha area there was a cacophony of roosters crowing and pounding sounds as people cheered and rooted for their gallo of choice. We noticed two rings. One that was a little larger than the other. There were a lot of roosters but in between, they still had time to play dice.

Topos Dice betsIn between cockfights they played “topos” or dice betting games.

According to Papo, in a botas fight like these, the time limit for fighting is only 3 minutes unlike in a fight with espuelas (spurs) which lasts about 12 minutes or until one of the roosters dies. They keep track of the hits that each of the roosters take in order to determine the winner.

Cock fight
Even with the botas, the roosters were pretty ruthless and needed no encouragement to fight

It was almost like watching a miniature boxing match. When they bring out the roosters they have them “meet” and their neck feathers get all ruffled up. Then they start the clock and they fight non- stop. Not in one match did a rooster back off from the others or run away. Even the roosters in the cages on the ground looked like they were ready to fight. But they were also strangely docile when a human would pick them up. I suppose any bird that started fighting at a human would not last long in this environment.

Having chickens and roosters ourselves I can tell you that roosters do fight and it’s not a hard concept to see where this tradition came from (though our rooster nearly always runs from the other in order to avoid the fight). In the country in times before internet and television it would be something to do. It brings a bit of excitement. There’s people, there’s food, there’s drink, there’s entertainment, there’s gambling.

Scale
The cocks are paired up based on weight using this scale

Britton y comida Puerto Rico food
Britton eating a taco picante and a tiny 8 oz Coors Light

Pinchos con papo
And then there’s what happens to most chickens: food. Pinchos with Papo

I enjoyed looking at all the chickens. There was really one breed of rooster that was preferred over the others. Papo wasn’t sure what it was called. Some of them had single combs, some had rose or buttercup combs but the majority were a reddish color with beautiful orange and green feathering.

Cassie and Rooster
Me with one of the larger birds

I really don’t like seeing animals suffer and “forced” to fight like this, but I can sort of understand it (I don’t think I will ever truly). In Mexico I also went to a bullfight and I felt that that was far more cruel because of the human involvement in invoking pain on those huge bulls. I also know that most roosters are killed (discarded) when they are just baby chicks because they are unwanted in egg production. So in a sense, this “sport” gives them a little longer of a life and possibly a little better care than they would receive otherwise.

Awards
Trophies to the winners

Dead roosters
The losers. Even still with the botas a few of them died and were just tossed out

Watching the cockfight
Up close and personal at a cockfight

I don’t think I would pick up cockfighting as a personal hobby of mine and I certainly felt a little out of place. But I found it extremely interesting from a cultural point of view and I am glad I had the opportunity to see it if only to understand it a little more.

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15 thoughts on “Our First Puerto Rican Cockfight

  1. Annie

    Thank you for giving us a sympathetic and culturally sensitive look at a “sport” which seems very foreign to us norteamericanos/estadounidenses. Good for you keeping an open mind and learning as much as you possibly can about your adopted land.

    Reply
  2. Annie

    On second thought, bullfighting in Spain and Mexico and American football and video games can also have the aggression release of the crowd in your pictures. Interesting how different cultures find violence and aggression so attractive and find ways to exploit it.

    Reply
  3. Cassie Post author

    Thanks Annie. I found it really intriguing. I am just not into violent sports really at all. I just can’t get into things getting hurt or killed with no purpose other than entertainment. Whether that’s a bull or chicken or 300 pound men ramming into each other, or pretending to kill zombies (or whatever) in a video game. But yah, maybe it’s each culture’s outlet for aggression or excess testosterone…humans are weird and I find THAT fascinating. ;-)

    Reply
  4. Barbara Schutt

    Yes, it is very interesting how humans get their aggression out. I’m not a fan of these types of sports, either but it is very cool that you kept an open mind and attended this event. Thank you, for sharing this because I probably wouldn’t have the wherewithal to do it. Kudos!

    It is great that you have such a good friend Papo and he is showing the other side of PR culture to you both.

    Reply
  5. jeff kruse

    Again using the word “Culture” as an excuse for bad behavior. Having animals fight each other is bad behavior and cruel. I can’t comprehend that because its part of the PR culture its ok. If people want to fight each other fine, they can choose for them selves. Animals being un-naturally put in this situation is barbaric. I appreciate you guys wanting to immerse yourself into PR culture but please try to pick the good aspects of it and try to change the bad.

    Reply
    1. Luis

      You sound like all mis informed people out there. The roosters fight naturally. No one is forcing them
      People from the city don’t understand. If you go to a farm you will find rooster fighting and killing each other and no one was there to put them to fight.
      If you read the rules and regulations of cockfight in Puerto Rico you will find that the roosters are place inside a box then the box is lifted and they do what comes naturally to them. No one handles​ them.

      It seems that Puerto Rico is the only place in the USA that the Constitution is respected and your rights​ also.
      At the end any law made base on a group or person opinion or believe is unconstitutional. The USA is the place in the world were they have more laws violating your constitutional rights. This is why many people say that the Constitution is only a paper.
      The gamecock is a bird that should be preserve. Is the only animal in the world that will fight to the end of his last breath. It deserve admiration and is been like that for 10,000 year’s.
      The most dangerous person in the world is an ignorant person with a lot of money and power to force their will on others.
      To finish think in the thing that you love the most in the world, that you can’t live without it. let say a big stake and them this group with money buy the currupt congressman to pass a law that you are not allow to eat meat. What will you do give up or fight. Live and let live that is freedom.

      Reply
  6. Reinaldo Lugo

    I dont understand why some many negatives comments about cockfighting in Puerto Ricoand nobody mention anything about hunting and animal cruelty on TV in AnimalPlanet channel.

    Reply
  7. C#

    I think this is just another one of those things that makes PR great. Its not necessarily the act of cock fighting, but its the fact that they haven’t let the rest of the world stomp all over their culture.

    We were in Rincon a couple weeks ago and it was obvious that there are aspects of Americana taking over, but the culture is still there. Lets hope it always stays that way and doesn’t get lost or completely diluted based on what others feel is their acceptable standard of living.

    Make some pincho’s out of those left behind chickens!

    Reply
  8. jeff kruse

    Reinaldo, people do talk about hunting and animal cruelty on TV in the Animal Planet channel. But this is not that venue. Sea Shepard is working hard towards getting the whales and dolphins out of sea world among other things. The major airlines wont ship the big 5 game animals and so forth. We talk about all the dog fighting in the US, just not on Cassi’s blog.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I understand, good behavior is fishing and throwing wich causes pain and harm to poor fishes, bow and arrow hunting, killing bears and so oon. I gues that s ok to you, Jeff. Boy is so easy for you to find the negative side of puertoricans, sure….

    Reply
  10. Annie

    Humans are basically very intelligent, aggressive and horny apes. Lots of them have no social conscience, although most do or we would have extincted ourselves long ago. I find the cockfighting less offending than the U.S. hunting and gun culture, so I agree with Puertoricanos (nyay over the n) on that. Grown men, going up in the mountain with scopes, night vision goggles, 4 wheelers and high powered guns to kill a year old deer is pretty cruel, especially since they don’t need the meat and do for fun.

    Reply
  11. Reinaldo

    Dear readers I have found places where can see cockfighting in USA specially in Tampa and Orllando.Itt is a matter of time he cockfighting will be legal when hispanic population become like 30 %of US total population in 25 years from now.

    Reply

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