WARNING: this post will not be a happy, cutesy little piece about kittens and sunshines and rainbows. it will be about timorese cockfighting. now, cockfighting is a
very bloody, very messed up, very real thing. i do not in any way condone it. if the idea of cockfighting bothers or offends you in any way, i recommend you stop reading right here. it’s not gonna be pretty.

you’ve been warned.


literally hundreds of timorese, filipino, and chinese men (only a handful of representatives from the latter two countries). mostly holding $1 bills and yelling excitedly. the “ring” is a 20’x20′ raised platform made of concrete, covered in dirt. it’s surrounded by 2′ high chicken wire & wood fences (high enough to keep the chickens in, but low enough so that people can toss balled up $20 bills into the ring from the sidelines). the ring is surrounded by narrow wooden “bleachers” that men stand on. if you’re a malae like me, you can ask to stand in the “box seats”–the staging area that prospective cockfighters queue up in with their chickens. all you have to do is say, “bele foto?” and they’ll nod excitedly at you…

“it’s pretty easy to find it. just exit the clinic, then turn left…go straight, then turn left again. it’s on your left. look for a ton of motorbikes, roosters crowing, dead chickens, and a bunch of timorese men.”

i’m not sure how much exactly it costs to enter a chicken, but it’s more than $100 for a chicken, an agent, and the entry fee. by the way, that thing on the chicken’s foot? that’s a blade. it’s a special thing they do in timor. i’ll get to that later.

there’s a lot of money in cockfighting. like, A LOT OF MONEY. this guy was one of the “refs” from what i could tell. he took the entry money from owners.

the owners have their chickens peck each other to piss them off real good. sometimes the owners let them peck the sides of each other’s necks. then they unsheath the blades, kiss their chickens good luck, and let them loose.

i actually didn’t mean for that wad of money to be in the photo. oops.

at many points in a typical fight, chickens will stare each other down, assuming this position. it reminds me of boxers sizing each other up, probing with one glove. boxers with knives attached to their fists.

the owners get really into it too. some of the “veteran” cockfighters seem to be friends with one another, and will laugh and joke with each other as their chickens murder the crap out of one another. at one point in one fight, when one chicken’s intestines were hanging out from its body from a wound, its owner turned to his opponent and jokingly poked the other owner’s butt. they both laughed. it was pretty messed up.

i’ve never seen chickens this angry. like, it’s palpable, the fierce fighting instincts raised in these cockfights.

it gets pretty gnarly.

yes, that’s blood. yes, that’s a 2″ knife tied to the chicken’s left foot yes, it’s dead.

this guy’s chicken won, as you can probably tell from the wad of $20 bills in his hand. the colorful sheath is for the huge blade thing they tie to the chicken’s left foot. every chicken that fights has one. it’s used as a stabbing and cutting implement, though i’m not sure how the heck you train a chicken to stab another chicken. i saw an agent with a display box of them. like, the kind of box you display fine cuban cigars in. in bali, and as far as i know, in the rest of the world, chickens aren’t given blades to fight with. just in timor.
also, i’m pretty sure this owner painted his left pinky nail orange .____.

i think his chicken won. “good job,” the guy patting his back seems to be saying.

i have no idea what this kid was doing here. that chicken was tied to the post. they start ’em young, i guess.


the view from ground level behind “the box seats”


2 thoughts on “cockfighting

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