Regardless, the events surrounding the fights were far more interesting than the fights themselves; the culture surrounding it was governed by a system of folkways and codified ethics which all participants upheld with the deepest regard. Dr. Evil explained that because of the multiplied return on a successful bet, it was understood by all who participated that anyone placing over $10 US would be immediately kicked off the premises.  Such an act offset the opportunity for universal social inclusion. He went on to inform us that that death wasn’t a guaranteed outcome and that there were several possible ways a fight could end. “First, a rooster may submit immediately after the fight begins, in which case he either puts his beak to the ground in display of submission or runs away from his opponent. Second, both roosters might quit fighting simultaneously— at which point the winner will be decided by the judges. And finally, the losing rooster either submits after a severe pummeling or… dies.”

cock-fight-3-webAt infrequent points between rounds the trainer of each rooster would pick up his bird, place the bloody animal’s head inside his mouth and spit its blood to the ground. “Do you see what he’s doing here, huh?” Dr Evil asked, his accent sounding ominous and sincere. “The man is emptying the blood from the bird’s nasal cavity; otherwise it will surely suffocate in combat.” He paused and continued, “In other words…he’s sucking a cock!” And it was true. There are 12 possible sources for the etymological origin of the word “cocksucker” and this was one of them. Immediately as I heard this I was sure, as every family has a pervy old uncle, I could hear mine somewhere far off making a dumb joke asking, “What came first…the blow job or the cockfight?” accompanied by overbearing laughter followed by a ruined birthday party/funeral/childhood.

After a few fights had already passed we were instructed to take a break for bottomless beers and cheap rum labeled “Cabbalito Suave”—a local drink that had a taste on par with rubbing alcohol. We sipped our beverages while Dr. Evil introduced us to a cock-trainer named Esteban who provided an informal overview of his conditioning process, presenting us with the tools of the trade: “boxing gloves” which cover the feet of his bird during practice, and a leash used to build stamina by yanking the bird backwards each time it goes to strike.  And finally—it’s a big misconception that prize cocks fight with their natural spurs. Instead, these are actually removed and replaced with a small metal “knife” tied to the left foot of each bird (since they would otherwise end up killing each within mere seconds).

Esteban gave further instructions warning not to take pictures of anyone’s defeated rooster: not only are cock-trainers sore losers, but they also love their birds dearly. In both Canada and US cockfighting is illegal and regarded as ruthless, (where objectified, mass-produced animals are sent to the slaughter continuously without any connection to consumer consciousness), and in Nicaragua, cockfighting is a legalized death sport—but one of honor and reverence. Although it must be understood that at least one rooster could die, no trainer would dare believe that this would be the fate of his rooster. Accordingly, if all ends well, the winning bird receives veneration from the community as a cherished mascot and symbol of neighborhood pride. As for the trainer, he can be seen walking with his bird; greeted with shouts of praise and admiration from the townspeople as they walk by.

As the evening went on—if the melee and mayhem weren’t enough—the festivities ended with a loud crash. Everyone turned with surprise, seeing that a young, local man had run his crotch-rocket into a dirt pothole, flinging him over the handlebars. He was fortunate enough to land in the middle of a rickety wooden bridge. He just lay there; his motorbike on its side with the back wheel spinning and the horde that had just been watching the fight now crowded around him. I asked an old man next to me if the guy was drunk. In Spanish he replied, “No. Just an idiot.”

By Kody Thompson

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