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In ancient times cocks were permitted to fight until one or the other was killed. Although some fights still are to an absolute finish, later rules have sometimes permitted the withdrawal at any time of a badly damaged cock.

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Other rules fix a time limit for each fight. On rare occasions when a gamecock refuses to fight longer, his handler puts him breast to breast with the other bird. If he still refuses, it is ruled that he has quit, and the fight ends. There is no appeal from his decisions. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Facts Matter. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Cockfighting sabong , an age-old pastime in the Philippines, has retained a passionate following. It is a popular form of gambling, with many spectators betting on the outcome of the fights.

Cockfighting, legal under Guam law, also supports a number of businesses. Attorney's Office. The U. The Dededo cockpit, according to employee Nester Imbat, has been around on Guam for at least 30 years. He's worked there for at least 20 years. More: Leon Guerrero will seek to preserve cockfighting tradition.

More: Cockfighting could be banned if federal bill signed into law. He has spent most of his life carrying on the tradition of cockfighting, which was passed down from his father, and his father's father and so on, he said. His hair, still a curly shock, has grown out to his shoulders, a wiry, indistinct gray, like a weathered Parrothead with blown-out flip-flops and a fading tattoo. His mustache is still there, bushy but drooping and seeded with ash and that weird yellow color that usually comes with older smokers, though MD has never been one.

There is Mark Twain in that mustache. He wears mirrored sunglasses until he switches to reading glasses for the menu. His skin is tanned and coarsened by days in the sun. His massive hands are scarred, scabbed, and calloused. I imagine him shucking oysters, the oyster knife slipping and slicing into his palm. Hands that have toiled and fought.

The Legend

He has lived close to the earth and under the sun. We are tanned, unshaven, bleached, and shaggy-haired. We are young, lean and muscled in cut-off t-shirts and blue jean shorts. Our faces are red with drink. MD holds up the bottle of Jim Beam that will eventually do us all in, leaving my college friend in the road out front, luckily for him rarely used. The self-timed photograph captures a moment of our friendship, but it also captures young men, at least two of whom know little about the world. The third, MD, stares back with the same calm, the same veiled eyes.

Cockfighter () dir. Monte Hellman | BOSTON HASSLE

MD seemed old to me then. But he was hardly thirty. Ten years later we would recreate that same photograph: the same stance, the same expressions, the same Jim Beam. Only ten years into our future and little had changed. It is only when I look at the most recent reenactment that I appreciate the time that has passed.

We are mature men now: no longer lean but loose and thick with age. We all wear our age differently, one paunchier, another more wrinkled, one grayer. Are we truer to our nature now than we were then? That we should have found our truest selves by now? MD, a cockfighting, salt-of-the-earth, Lowcountry boy. Or, MD, a professional boxer, if a losing one, and a huckster. Me, a writer and a teacher who gets to read, write, and talk about books all day. Or, me, a lazier, fatter, safer version of the young man in the photograph. Lots of weekend trips and local events to look forward to, but with a nine-year-old in tow, absent the ability to pursue anything with too much of the unknown. With more at stake in my life now, and out of fear of what might and can certainly turn wrong, I insist on constant governance.

I recall adventures of my twenties and thirties and marvel at the person I was then. Reckless, curiosity unbound, with the will to pursue my imagination wherever it led. Now I rely on rules, guidelines, and an understanding of my environment—the known versus the unknown—to ensure nothing foul happens to my family or me, that every undertaking goes well. There is just as much superstition involved as there is actual control. Sure, some of my caution is that of a father and a husband, unease for a family on whom I keep a watchful eye.

My apprehension grows from my desire to live longer, to see my daughter grow up, to be her father for as long as possible. That seems as tragic as other kinds of loss. How do we reconcile that? And what kind of shadow have I become? Visiting MD I feel of the world again, not pressed to the bed for fear of what moves outside. When we come back from dinner, MD pulls himself out of his rental car, no easy task for a man so large in a car so small.

He rented the car for my visit. I have no idea how he gets around otherwise. He hobble-hustles over to the fence gate. MD walks off without another word, searching the large yard. His gait is deliberate but sluggish. I stare at the animal. Blood stains its body but there are no other signs of violence. The lamb looks to be napping. The image holds me.

This is no road kill, no photograph. I feel as if I stand upon an alien landscape. Just like that I am transported from the routine of my life to this extraordinary moment.

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The fleece where there is no blood looks soft and bleached. I want this moment, this life and now death. MD comes back carrying two more lambs by their hind legs. He tosses them beside the one that still holds my gaze. Nothing but instinct, doing what dogs do. These deaths are routine, something that goes on every day. This is the reality. That any moment nature can take over and change your life. This is real. The first time I witnessed the crossing of this line was when my father died of lung cancer in the span of six very short months, not because he smoked, which he did, but simply because his cells mutated and turned bad.

Animals kill other animals, both the pattern and chaos of nature, of which we are a part. Too often we separate ourselves from the other animals, the other parts of nature, the universe. How do we deserve such separation? Only in our ability to think it do we distinguish ourselves. Yet chaos still reigns, no more and no less because we fear it, because we know it will one day happen. We can no more control dogs outside a fence than we can the guy who drops his phone as he speeds through a red light, T-boning your wife and daughter as they drive for ice cream on a warm Saturday night.

No more than the sad and alienated gunman who turns up in your shopping mall to spray the crowd with exploding bullets from an assault rifle. The flash flood that sweeps your car from the road, trapping you and your family inside as water fills the cabin. The accidental poisoning of your best friend when he buys tainted ground beef at the grocery store. So, as nature demands, we fight back, we keep our talons up and our coronas flared, not to die, but to live.

Most concern car accidents and cancer, big killers for sure. But there is no shortage of ways to die, more than the imagination can conceive, always some shadow waiting to consume us. Children leave you like this—legless against the fear of losing them. Even fear of your own death is driven by a desire not to leave your child parentless. Being here again near the water with the old friend I still know little about reminds me to live a little closer to the line. Just as MD keeps himself in the ring. The flock of sheep rests in the shade of a sprawling live oak.

They chew at grass, nibble at fleas, and swish their tails at flies. There is no sense that violence has occurred here today. A ewe stares at me without blinking. In the last twenty-four hours, three of her lambs have been killed. Is she aware of this? Is there an intimation of the loss or even of the mortality that surrounds her? Or has she already forgotten, her memory of birth and life and death only as far as she can see and smell, only as real as the living things before her, the dead things by the fence no longer in her care?

Is this true? Dogs get in fences one way or another? If so, why have lambs if they are just to be gotten by blood thirsty, playful dogs? Dogs who are supposed to be guarding the fence. Are they the same ones who will also find a way in and rob you of those you love?

Our best bet is to bob and weave at whatever is thrown at us, never stop moving, never let your guard down. And understand that, even with a vigilant defense, the punches will get through. I feel as if this breach in the fence is my fault, as if my fear of the unknown and random led to this.

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MD is a good man. Evidence here might suggest another kind: callous, violent, and uncultured. But that is not my friend at all. Like the roosters he raises and fights, he is a creature of survival: bob and weave in the ring, duck and cover, kick up dirt for his life. A few months later I try to call him but the last number he gave me has been disconnected. I will never see that cockfight.