Peoples Tonight c/o Ed Andaya
CARREO by Rolando S. Luzong
This article was sent to me by my American friend Russel Snow who did an extended research on the history of cockfighting for a book that he published in 2003.
Gamefowl were brought to
It seems that the governor of New Spain (
prince, Felipe Pedro Gabriel.
Friar Rodriguez writes, that on the second day of the fiesta, in addition to bullfights, “fights between ‘birds of the sun’ [gamecocks] were also enjoyed”.
From that time on cockfighting has been an integral part of the
The word has since been adapted to refer to anywhere cockfights take place, be it an indoor cockpit or outdoors in an open area. Palenques vary from small derbies held on ranches and in courtyards to elaborate outdoor arenas featuring Mariachi bands and singers performing in between fights. Some of the most famous singers in
Regardless of size, almost all palenques take place during a feria or fair. In
These fairs are held to celebrate Patron Saints, to commemorate an important harvest such as mangos or coffee or simply as a yearly tradition. At all of these occasions, in addition to abundant food, music,
dancing and rides, there are invariably cockfights.
This, by the way, is only time cockfighting is legal in
This does not happen very often, however. Throughout the year, there are ferias in almost every part of the country, drawing gallant galleros eager to compete against one another with their beloved fighting roosters.
The term gallero (pronounced guy-yeah-rro) is the Spanish word for gamecocker. In
when you call yourself as a gallero, everyone knows exactly what you are referring to. It is a term that is equal to caballero (horseman, gentleman) or torero (bullfighter).
In this country if you say mention are a gamecocker, most people would have no idea what you are talking about. To elaborate and say you raise and fight gamefowl, chances are you would encounter ridicule or possibly
even open hostility. It is quite different south of the border.
Cockfighting is considered a well-respected sport throughout most of Latin-America, and to be associated with it is considered honorable.
I have made many friends and acquaintances both in
crow of the gamecock.
The way a
the entire ritual of the
The ritual begins even before the derby begins. Fashionably late at most times, Mexican cockers will wait until the last possible minute before arriving at
Weighing-in involves an intricate parlay at the scales and often lasts longer than the fight. Cockers will argue over a bird’s weight as if they were haggling for fruit in the local marketplace. After the weigh-in, comes the task of tying on the weapon, most often the 1” knife. After which the proud soltedor (handler) parades the bird around the ring in his arms or on a short tie cord, excepting bets, greeting friends, and showing the crowd his contender.