Cockfighting In Cuba

By BobbyRica | December 8, 2011

cuba cockfighting

Cockfighting in Cuba may be vicious and gruesome, but it is largely tolerated. It has also became a very lucrative business, and we’re talking millions of pesos. Add that with the allure of a gambling road show and you have a spectator sport with a huge national following. Visiting a match between two roosters can be a colorful spectacle, despite it being very bloody. Though I personally do not condone having two animals fight it out till one dies, there is something very morbidly fascinating about cockfighting in Cuba. If you’re a first timer, expect the worst. Brawls are known to occur during and after matches.


First off are the gamecocks being used to fight. They are an aggressive breed of fowl. Fighting birds are bred for strength and stamina in The Finca Alcona, at the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo. It is the largest breeder of fighting cocks in Cuba. Fowls are prepared, trained and selected before being exported. A candidate can go up to 4,000 pesos in value at the informal national market. These pugnacious birds have been trained to for long bloody drawn out affairs that can last for hours. The first thing one notices from these gamecocks is that their feathers are removed from their legs. The reason for the trim is to keep the bird from becoming over heated during a fight. According to an expert, the heat generated on the lower area of the bird can slow a bird down.


The Spanish conquistadors introduced cockfighting during the 18th century and had stayed ever since. This has been the only form of organized gambling that exists today under the Castro revolution. And it is surprising how despite animal rights activists condemning the sport, the government has been supporting it for hundreds of years. Who can blame them? Tournaments can draw in at least 500 people and can generate 50,000 Cuban pesos ($2000). Gambling pesos that can be taxed. Cockfighting events are usually held in the rural province of Cuba’s unofficial cockfighting capital, Pinar del Rio. Once can see the carnival like atmosphere as tournaments occur from mid-morning till late evening. Either that or till a gamecock gets killed. Expect glasses of rum floating around the arena as the largely male audience show show how rousing a fight can be.


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