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Cockfighting Basics

Cockfighting was a series of one-on-one battles between birds of opposing teams. The birds were bred specifically for fighting. Their wings were clipped, they were given sharp steel spurs, and their beaks were filed sharp. In a battle royal, many birds would be thrown together into a pit. King James I "was made very merry" by one such fight in 1617. Cockfights allowed the lower classes to mix with the upper they appealed to all levels of society.

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History of Cockfighting

Cockfighting has been practised throughout history. It was popular in ancient Asian cultures, was adopted by the Greeks and Romans, continued through the medieval period, and today it remains a recognised sport in some parts of the world. Some countries have banned the sport due to the harm birds inflict upon one another, but in other countries it's a legitimate form of popular entertainment. The Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 banned it in England, Wales, and the British overseas territories and it was banned in Scotland in 1895.

Modern Cockfighting

Cockfighting remains largely unchanged from earlier times. Many countries have established arenas for cockfighting, akin to arenas used for other combat sports like wrestling or boxing. Roosters are naturally aggressive toward one another, a trait which cockfighting exploits for entertainment. Prior to fights, birds may be trained rigorously with the use of obstacle courses or mock-fights with other roosters. Before a fight owners pluck most of the bird's feathers and cut off its wattle so an opponent can't rip it off. Fights may last from a few seconds to fifteen minutes or more. While birds don't necessarily have to die for one to win, their injuries are often so severe that death is common.

In countries that have banned cockfights, the sport often takes place in defiance of the law and fights are advertised through word-of-mouth. Locations are changed often so as to avoid the notice of authorities. Betting is still integral. While it's often controversial, many people see it as part of their cultural heritage. Despite the objections of animal rights groups, it remains legitimate and legal in parts of the world and where it's not, some people still hold cockfights in defiance of the law, and the normal rules of civilised behaviour.
 

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