An evening at the cock fights – December 16, 2012

So yesterday Kristi and I decided we were going to the cock fights.  There is a guy who takes a group every week leaving from Via Via named Harry.  He charges $12 which gets you transportation to and from the cock fights, entrance into the fights and all you can drink beer and Agaurdiente.  So he told us to meet him at 2:45pm

We left shortly after 3pm with a group of 15.  We end up riding through a pretty rough looking neighborhood about 10 minutes west of Via Via and arrived shortly after.

Harrie started us out with a toast and a shot of Aguardiente.  When you drink it straight, it smells and I imagine tastes just like rubbing alcohol.  I recommend mixing it with Fresca.

A couple litres of beer are put on our table and it’s game on.  There we 3 other people at the cock fights in our group from BC.  So 1/3 of the group was representing BC.

Harrie explains to us how the cock fights work and the training and care involved. Roosters will fight naturally but when they realize how good one is, they train it to be a fighting rooster.  Training involves putting it on a leash and going for a walk to improve stamina.  They cut off the big talon that the rooster has and put mini boxing gloves on their feet so they can spar with other roosters.  Roosters here in Nicaragua are treated like pets just like dogs and cats to us.

So now they’re ready to fight… but their talon has been cut off… So what they do is they strap a mini boot onto the Cock’s foot and attach a mini blade to it. Usually between 1-2mm in length which is considered a non fatal length unless it hits the main aretery on the neck.

There are 3 ways to end the fight.

1) One rooster runs away from the other rooster, refusing to fight.  Fight is over, they don’t force them to fight

2) A rooster puts it’s beak into the ground.  They then stop the match for 20 seconds.  If the rooster at the start of the next round puts its head down, it is giving up and the fight is over.

3) One rooster kills the other.

If none of these occur within 15 minutes, then the fight is declared a draw.

Now onto the betting.

The two people who have roosters fighting arrange a bet between each other.  The event we were at was small time amature so they would bet between 800-2500 cords per fight.  Before they make this bet, they weigh in their Roosters and a non biased official. They then escrow their money with the official who I believe keeps a small percent for himself.

Now if you want to bet there are 2 options.  You can make an unofficial bet with random spectators in the stands, pick your rooster and loser pays up after the fight.  Or you can make an official bet with the owner of the rooster fighting.  The bet size here is between 40-100 cords as it is small time but they can get up to some pretty large bets at other locations.  So I go to the owner of the Rooster I want to bet on and I give him 100 cords. If his rooster loses, he keeps the 100 cords and it helps him cover some of his loss.  If the rooster wins, you go and collect your money back + 90%.  So if you bet 100 cords and win, you receive 190 cords back. If the fight ends in a draw, you get your money back minus 10% so if you bet 100 cords you receive 90 back.  Harrie told us that if he hears we are betting more than 100 cords, he will kick us out. We are not here to make money and if we want to make money then go to the casino.

Now at the end of the day, before you decide that this is wrong and cruel, this is their culture.  The closest comparison I can make is to Horse trainers.  They love these birds and care for these birds as their pets.  Why do they make their pets fight? Because that’s what they do in their culture.  But lets not confuse this with a dog fight where you have to mistreat, starve and torture a dog to get it to fight, it is the opposite.  You have to care for it, cover big vet bills and make sure it has the proper diet and training. Harrie told us there have been instances where owners cry when their Rooster is killed not because they lost money but because they loved that bird.

Anyways, I imagine if you’re against it and close minded, my explanation won’t sway any opinions and that’s fine. Just realize that I am taking part in their culture and accepting it for what it is.

The first fight was pretty gruesome and according to the locals, wasn’t a good fight.  There was one rooster that was considered the favorite and I picked the other one.  My rooster demolished this big White rooster.  Everyone in my section appeared to be frustrated… guess they bet on the wrong bird.  This rooster had no quit in him, he kept coming back for more like he was Rocky or something.  It looked like the 15 minutes was almost up when finally it surrendered.  I didn’t have any money on this one but i still considered myself 1-0-0 to start.

After the fight they brought the rooster over that lost and it was beat up pretty bad.  What was once a nice looking white rooster, ended up a bloody mess but still alive. They were taking him to the vet to get stitched up, fix it’s broken foot and begin the healing process.  It is predicted he will fight again in about a year.

2nd fight I made a 50 cord bet with an Aussie guy, Andrew, from our group.  This fight was going pretty back and forth even until my rooster delivered a kill shot promptly ending the fight.

For the next fight I let the Aussie pick who he liked and I took the other.  My rooster was kicking the shit out of the other rooster.  Then as Aussies rooster put its head to the ground they froze the round.  They did a 20 second count and when they lifted the board, Aussies rooster put its beak to the ground and mine took off running away… The fight was declared a draw and both owners were pissed feeling that they had won.  Everyone was pissed and it seemed like a fight was going to break out.  It was close but they got things under control.

Aussie picked again and my rooster made quick work of his putting me up 100 cords and a 3-0-1 record.

The last fight I tried to make an official bet with the cool 100 cords I had won off Aussie.  a local beside Kristi said “That’s the one that will win” so I took his advice.  I called the owner over and showed him the 100. He said no, his action was done.  However another guy in the cage took my bet and a 3rd party escrowed.  As he took my money he said “I’m sorry for you loss my friend”.  Friendly banter that cause the crowd behind me to laugh.

As the fight went on, my rooster got his ass kicked, the locals taunted me and laughed and I just enjoyed being the center of attention.  After the fight I shook hands with the guy I lost to and we laughed.  It was getting dark and they decided it was time to go.  I guess it’s not a safe environment once the sun goes down and the booze has run through them.

We went back to Via Via and had a drink.  We were talking with Andrew my new Aussie friend, and 2 french guys, Elliote and Max.  We all head over to the little mexican restaurant we were at Saturday night for beers and food.  Max and Elliote decide they want shwarmas so they run around the corner and come back with some amazing looking food.  We still eat our meals happily then they show us where they got the shwarmas from.  We’ll be going there today likely.

So Andrew has agreed to send me picks from the cock fights.  This is because Kristi and I brought the GoPro.  Unlike volcano boarding, we were smart and remembered the SD card… but we forgot to charge it. This GoPro experience has not been very good.  Hopefully Andrew doesn’t forget to send me the pics so I can upload them for people to see.

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