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The Cockpit. Two and pic


There are traditions that are practically in the DNA of many people, especially in rural areas, that apart from population it is difficult to understand. Therefore it remains as part of the idiosyncrasy of a people and perhaps it becomes the last vestiges of millenarian customs.

This is the case of cockfighting, an activity that is carried out (legally and illegally) in many Latin American countries, especially in the Caribbean where the “cockers” usually call it “gentleman’s sport”. This means any mediator in the bets, not even a document stating the agreement, because the cocker’s word is enough to close a deal.

However, the culture of cockfighting is not native from these areas. This custom was brought in by Spaniards and it probably was copied from Asians, whose some fighting records have been found among birds of more than 2,500 years.

In the Dominican Republic is a legal activity and closely linked to the countryside. The only existing regulation is related to the use of spurs on roosters’ legs. The cockpits are spots where fights take place, its shape makes to remember a bullring but on a small scale. The center of the structure is circular and serves as the arena fight. Spectators (among which are sports personalities and entrepreneurs) sit around and once the fight starts the audience explodes into rejoicing. Like any other celebration, alcohol and music are intrinsic to the activity. All cockpits are not small; there are two “coliseums” (one in Santiago and other in Santo Domingo) which have capacity for over 300 people.

Most of competitors are out of the cockfight, these are rooster farms not only dedicated to breed those with a good genetic material for combat, but to train and feed them to reach the proper weight to compete. The main task of trabero (breeder) is to find good pimps and breeding hens whose characteristics like the origin, phenotype, and genotype will become them the perfect genetic recipe for breeding champions.

Nevertheless, not everything is left at the mercy of genetics in cockfighting. There are popular beliefs that can decide the fate of a fight. These beliefs are called superstition on cockfi ghting and among the most popular are:

  •  Always leave the door open when you go to cockpit.
  • If the rooster fl aps its wings and does not sing, it will lose for sure.
  • If you shelled pigeon peas, do not visit the cockpit that day.
  • If someone offers to buy a rooster sell it, because it can be killed in the fight.
  • The cock with light colored feather doesn’t gain in new moon.
  • If the cock pecks shirt buttons when reading it, it wins for sure.
  • The third fight is the most difficult for a rooster.
  • Use always the same shirt you used when the rooster won.
  • The one-eyed rooster should fight at night.
  • If the cock is private or stunned, take it out to deprive.

Regarding this belief, many cockers spit rum in the face of the animal to put on alert, that’s why the cheap rum is called “rooster washer”.

That is the way cockfighting survives between genetics and superstition, a tradition that is looked at more suspiciously every time.

TEXT: Geizel Torres IMAGES: Suresh