Sabong, or cockfighting, is one of the oldest betting sports in the Philippines. Though most countries have banned the “bloodsport,” its history in the islands has upheld the pastime as more or less sacrosanct, and it’s a tradition that millions of Filipinos participate in on a daily basis.
Cockfighting is a combat arena sport that pits two roosters, or cocks (aka gamecocks), against one another in a ring. These birds are typically chosen based on size and aggression similarities, and they have blades (single-edged or double-edged) affixed to their left legs. Per owner agreement, however, some fights feature blades on the right legs or both legs of the animals.
Once primed to fight, the cocks are loosed into the sabong pit (aka the cockpit), and they attack one another with beak, blade, and talon. The referee can call the fight at any time, as it’s usually clear which bird has won the fight after only a few minutes.
Many uninitiated observers tend to think these fights are over in just a few seconds, but that’s not true. A typical cockfight can last up to half an hour, depending on the birds’ defensive instincts and energy levels. Fighting cocks are bred specifically to be aggressive, though as with boxing, there is sometimes a definite “dance” that takes place in the pit.
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