Cockfighting has been a popular sport in Puerto Rico for hundreds of years.
Here is a Puerto Rican cockfight from 1937.
And it remains a legal and celebrated sport to this day. Welcome to Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico.
If you want to watch a cockfight, you have to walk through this door, pay $5, and get patted down by a security guard.
And when you walk in, this:
Here is how the cockfights happen.
1. In the upstairs level of the arena, trainers meticulously tape and shave the sharpened talons of their roosters…
3. Man holding his cock.
4. The gamecocks are then put into a smaller plastic container on a conveyor belt and suspended over the entire arena.
5. The cocks travel along this belt over all the spectators…
6. …and are then lowered down to the arena like gladiators.
7. Once the cocks are lowered into the arena, old men wander around yelling bets at each other.
8. Two officials in red shirts take the gamecocks out and start parading them around, sometimes banging them together.
9. The cocks are then put in plastic boxes, facing each other.
10. More bets are yelled across the arena.
11. And then the box rises, releasing the birds to fight.
13. And can happen just feet away from the spectators.
14. The men get very intense and yell, “Kill him!” “Kill him!”
15. The gamecocks will repeatedly peck and claw one another, and both birds are badly injured.
16. The matches get louder and bloodier until eventually a judge declares one bird the winner.
According to The Associated Press, “A winner is declared if one of the animals dies, runs away or falls and fails to get up within one minute.”
Due to their inhumane, brutal nature, Cockfights are banned in all U.S. states, and it is illegal to even watch a cockfight in 40 states.
But as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico can live outside of these boundaries.
17. Wads of cash are thrown to those who bet on the winning cock.
The old men have all the money and count it proudly.
18. But if your bird dies, you can just carry it around.
Like this guy.
19. And have a conversation with your buddy while holding your dead bird.
20. Like at any other sporting event, there’s a full bar.
21. And plenty of drinks to go around.
22. As well as fried snacks and cups of ceviche to eat.
23. If you don’t want to go up and get your drinks and food, waitresses will bring it to you.
24. “Not your typical Applebee’s.”
25. You can also buy cockfighting SWAG here.
26. Along with your own cockfighting kit.
The boxes to keep the roosters in and the stuffed pets to train them how to fight.
27. There were many kids there. Some had cockfighting toys.
A little girl had her first birthday celebration in the middle of the ring.
The girl was the daughter of one of the owners, and the entire audience was given cupcakes as a mariachi band played “Happy Birthday” to her.
This is the child’s birthday cake.
Some roosters were killing each other here moments earlier.
Maybe all of these creature comforts have led to Club Gallistico’s very positive Trip Advisor review.
And is one of the most successful cockfighting venues in the U.S. territory.
In 2010, the government of Puerto Rico passed a resolution to protect cockfights as an integral part of the island’s culture.
The sport also generates millions in revenue per year. So despite the cruelty, it may be around for awhile.