Cockfighting is said to be the world’s oldest spectator sport. It goes back 6,000 years in Persia. According to one author, there is evidence that cockfighting was a pastime in the Indus Valley Civilization.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (2008) holds:
“The sport was popular in ancient times in India, China, Persia, and other Eastern countries and was introduced into Ancient Greece in the time of Themistocles (c. 524–460 BC).For a long time the Romans affected to despise this “Greek diversion”, but they ended up adopting it so enthusiastically that the agricultural . Writer Columella (1st century AD) complained that its devotees often spent their whole patrimony in betting at
the side of the pit.
The significance of the original name of Mohenjo-daro inferring that the city was “the city of the cock” takes on great significance if taking into account that it has been claimed that the domestic fowl was tamed in India in 6000 BC. However, according to a recent study:
“it is not known whether these birds made much contribution to the modern domestic fowl. Chickens from the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley (2500–2100 BC) may have been the main source of diffusion throughout the world”.
“Within the Indus Valley, indications are that chickens were used for sport and not for food (Zeuner 1963)” and that by 1000 BC they had assumed “religious significance”.
Some additional insight into the pre-history of European and American secular cockfighting may be taken from The London Encyclopedia:
“At first cockfighting was partly a religious and partly a political institution at Athens and was continued for improving the seeds of valor in the minds of their youth, but was afterwards perverted both there and in the other parts of Greece to a common pastime, without any political or religious intention.”
The image of a fighting rooster has been found the 6th century BC seal of Jaazaniah, discovered during the excavation of the biblical city of Mizpah in Benjamin, near Jerusalem. It is one of the earliest depictions of a fighting rooster ever recovered. This depiction is consistent with the remains of these birds found at other Israelite Iron Age sites, when the rooster was used as a fighting bird; they are also pictured on other seals from the period as a symbol of ferocity, such as on the one engraved on a late-7th-century BC red jasper seal inscribed “Jehoahaz, son of the king”, which likely belonged to Jehoahaz of Judah “while he was still a prince during his father’s life.“ cockfighting is common throughout all of Southeast Asia, where it is implicated in spreading bird flu. Like Islam, Christianity might shun the belief in spirits, but in Southeast Asia, indigenous interpretations of the veneration of saints and passion plays dominate.
In the Christian northern Philippines, respect is accorded the veneration of traditional anito (spirits), shamans number in the thousands and Catholic priests are powerless to stop cockfighting, a popular form of fertility worship among almost all Southeast Asians. Also in rural northern Thailand a religious ceremony honoring ancestral spirits takes place known as “faun phii”, spirit dance or ghost dance, and includes offerings for ancestors with spirit mediums sword fighting, spirit possessed dancing,
and “spirit mediums cockfighting”, in a spiritual cockfight.
Locally termed Sabong, is a popular pastime in the Philippines where both illegal and legal cockfights occur. Legal cockfights are held in cockpits every week, whilst Illegal ones called tupada or tigbakay, are held in secluded cockpits where authorities cannot raid them. In both types, knives or gaffs are used. There are two kinds of knives used in Philippine cockfighting. The single edge blade (use in derbies) and double edged blades, lengths of knives also vary. All knives are attached on the left leg of the bird, but depending on agreement between owners. Blades can be attached on the right or even on both legs.
Sabong and illegal tupada, are judged by a referee called sentensyador or koyme, whose verdict is final and not subject to any appeal. Bets are usually taken by the kristo, so named because of his outstretched hands when calling out wagers from the audience and skillfully doing so purely from memory.
World Gamefowl Expo 2014, World Trade Center Metro Manila The country has hosted several World Slasher Cup derbies, held biannually at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, where the world’s leading game fowl breeders gather. World Slasher Cup is also known as the “Olympics of Cockfighting”. The World Gamefowl Expo 2014 was held in the World Trade Center Metro Manila.
Cockfighting was already flourishing in pre-colonial Philippines, as recorded by Antonio Pigafetta, the Italian diarist aboard Ferdinand Magellan’s 1521 expedition. Cockfighting in the Philippines is derived from the fact that it shares elements of Indian and other Southeast Asian cultures, where the jungle fowl (bankivoid) and Oriental type of chicken are endemic.