Cockfighting in Thailand: Popular pastime & big business

Cockfighting in Thailand: Popular pastime & big business

A cockfight in progress at a small cockfighting ring, usually accompanied with a lot of gambling. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT
A cockfight in progress at a small cockfighting ring, usually accompanied with a lot of gambling. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

Profitable & old Thai tradition of cockfighting with top fighting birds worth up to 3 million baht & gambling bets as large as 22 million baht.


Cockfighting in Thailand: Popular pastime & big business

AFP News agency

The cry of roosters drowns out the roar of engines beneath a Bangkok flyover as all eyes are trained on two sparring birds, a bloody, high stakes battle in a country where cockfighting is big business.


For the few dozen men surrounding a technically illegal but tolerated underpass cockfighting ring, cockfighting is as much a generations-old Thai tradition as it is commerce...

"It's a way to preserve ancient Thai culture and pass it on to our children," says one 50-year-old.

The official government view supports cockfighting as part of Thai culture.

"We've had cockfighting since ancient times, for more than 700 years," said Pitsanu Prapatananun from the Interior Ministry, which encourages raising the birds in local communities as a form of "extra income".

Cocks flying in air as they strike each other with their spurs during a cockfight. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT


Cockfighting is almost always accompanied by lucrative gambling.

"We don't think it's violence as it's a kind of sport," said a regular punter Suwan Cheunchom, 35, after winning 500 baht on a round which ended in a tie...

...A few weeks later the same stadium raked in 22.2 million baht for a record breaking bet...

While they risk up to two years in jail for gambling at an unregistered ring, authorities routinely turn a blind eye to such activities.

Thailand is dotted with much larger, official cockfighting stadiums that draw vast, big-spending crowds.

At the Bangkok Cockpit in Samut Prakan province, a 1,000-strong crowd cheers on a pair of avian fighters whose necks are locked in combat as bets furiously exchange hands.

Proud owner of a fighting bird. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT


The birds do not usually fight to the death, as in many parts of the world, but they can still inflict fatal damage to their opponent.

Unlike in the Philippines, where roosters can be seen fighting with blades attached to their feet [with fights often ending in death], Thailand's birds usually compete with their spurs wrapped in fabric.

The cocks are judged on their fighting prowess rather than their ability to kill, with proponents holding that such protections mean "there are not many injuries".

Spectators watch as two cocks fight. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT


Champion birds attract a cult following like "muay thai" kickboxers, with entire magazines dedicated to the bloodsport.

In this lucrative industry "good fighting birds" can sell for more than 3 million baht, with Thailand exporting cocks to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia and buyers arriving from as far afield as France and Bahrain.

Owner with his fighting cock. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT


But some Thais are fighting for an end to the practice of cockfighting in a country where the concept of animal welfare is slowly emerging...

Late last year Thailand introduced its first-ever animal welfare law after years of campaigning by animal rights activists.

This new law bans "torture and cruelty towards animals" but exempts activities deemed part of the Thailand's traditions such as bull fighting and cockfighting.

Back at the ring, men suck out blood pooled in the necks of their fowls in between bouts so that the birds feel refreshed and better.

The longer the bird can fight, the stronger and more valuable he will be.

Small cockfighting ring built under a flyover. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

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  • accompanied by: to happen or exist while something else is happening -
  • activist: someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • activity (noun): a thing that you do for work, interest or pleasure, or in order to achieve a particular aim - กิจกรรม
  • all eyes are trained on: everyone is watching .... -
  • attached (verb): connected; involved; taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, ประจำ
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • avian: relating to birds -
  • ban: officially not allowed to do something - การห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
  • battle: a fight; serious disagreement, strong competition, etc. - การต่อสู้
  • bet: to risk money on a race or an event by trying to predict the result - พนัน
  • blade: the thin sharp part of a knife, tool, or weapon that cuts things - ใบมีด
  • bloodsport: a violent sport that involves fighting, injury or death such as bull fighting, dog fighting or cock fighting -
  • bloody (verb): to injure a part of someone's body so that it bleeds - ทำให้มีเลือดออก
  • bout: a boxing or wrestling match - การแข่งขัน
  • break a record (idiom): to do something better than anyone has every done before, e.g., faster, higher, more times, etc. - ทำลายสถิติ
  • campaign: a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim - การรณรงค์
  • champion: winner; the winner of a sports competition - ผู้ชนะเลิศ, ผู้ที่ได้คะแนนสูงสุดในการแข่งขัน
  • cheers: the sound that people make in a large crowd when they are happy about something -
  • cock: a male fowl or chicken; a rooster -
  • cockfighting: when male fowl (chickens, roosters) fight - การชนไก่
  • cockpit: a place for cockfighting -
  • combat (noun): fighting; fighting during a war - การต่อสู้
  • commerce: trade, especially between countries; the buying and selling of goods and services - การค้าขายสินค้า, ธุรกิจการค้า (commerce minister รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงพาณิชย์)
  • community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน
  • compete: to try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - แข่งขัน
  • concept: a principle or idea - ความคิด
  • contest: a competition - การแข่งขัน
  • crowd: many people gathered at one place - ฝูงชน, กลุ่มคน, มวลชน
  • cruelty: behaviour that deliberately causes pain to other people or animals - อย่างโหดเหี้ยม
  • cult following: the condition of being adored or worshiped by many people - สิ่งที่ฮิตราวกับเป็นลัทธิ
  • damage (verb): to harm or spoil something/somebody - ทำความเสียหาย
  • damage (noun): physical harm caused to something which makes it less attractive, useful or valuable - ความเสียหาย
  • deemed: considered - เห็นว่า ถือว่า
  • dotted (verb): covered in dots; having many of a particular thing in an area - มีลายจุด
  • dozen: a group of twelve of the same thing - หนึ่งโหล
  • draw: to attract or interest somebody - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • drowns out: very loud so you can't hear anything else -
  • emerge: to appear or to become recognised - โผล่ออกมา
  • encourage: to cause someone to want to do something - กระตุ้น ให้การสนับสนุน
  • exchange (verb): to give one thing and get another - แลกเปลี่ยน
  • exchange hands: exchange; to give one thing and get another - แลกเปลี่ยน
  • exempt: not affected by something - ได้รับการยกเว้น
  • export (noun): something sold and transported to another country - สินค้าออก
  • fabric: cloth, especially when it is used for making things such as clothes or curtains - ผ้าหรือสิ่งทอ
  • far afield: far away; not nearby -
  • fatal: causing someone to die - ถึงตาย
  • flyover: a bridge that carries one road over another one - สะพานลอยที่ให้รถวิ่ง
  • fowl: a bird that is kept on a farm for its eggs and meat - สัตว์ปีกที่เลี้ยงไว้ใช้เป็นอาหารในครัวเรือน
  • furiously: done with a lot of energy and determination - เต็มที่
  • gambling: the activity of betting money, for example in a game or on a horse race - การพนัน
  • generation (noun): a time period of 20 years -
  • high stakes: when gamblers are gambling with large amounts of money -
  • holding: saying or believing that something is true -
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • inflict: to cause something bad to happen to someone or something - ทำให้เสียหาย
  • injury (noun): physical damage done to a person or a part of their body - อาการบาดเจ็บ
  • interior ministry (noun): a ministry with responsibility a wide variety of local government agencies and functions, e.g., the police, local administrations, internal security, citizenship, disaster management, land management, issuing national identity cards and public works, etc. - กระทรวงมหาดไทย
  • jail (noun): a prison - เรือนจำ, ห้องขัง, คุก
  • judge: to form an opinion about somebody/something, based on the information you have - คาดคะเน
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • lock (verb): to become or make something become fixed in one position and unable to move - ทำให้ติดแน่น
  • lucrative: earning a lot of money - ที่มีกำไรงาม
  • neck: the part of the body between the head and the shoulders - ลำคอ (อวัยวะ), คอ
  • neighbouring: located or living near or next to a place or person - ติดกัน, ที่อยู่ใกล้เคียง, ที่ตั้งอยู่ใกล้เคียง
  • official: done by people in authority or decided by the government; announced publicly - เป็นทางการ
  • opponent: a person or team being competed against in a sports event - คู่ต่อสู้
  • pair: two of something - คู่
  • pool: to collect things from different people, groups, etc. - รวมกลุ่ม, ใส่เข้ากองกลาง
  • practice: a way of doing something - การปฏิบัติ
  • proponent: a person who speaks publicly in support of a particular idea or plan of action - ผู้เสนอ, ผู้สนับสนุน, ผู้เห็นด้วย
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • prowess: great skill at doing something - ความสามารถยอดเยี่ยม
  • punter: a person who gambles - นักเสี่ยงโชค
  • raked in (verb): earned a lot of something, usually money, especially when it is done easily - กวาด, ได้รับ
  • record: the best or most ever achieved - สถิติ
  • refreshed (adj): feeling fresh again; feeling less tired or hot - สดชื่น
  • regular: a person who often takes part in the same activity -
  • ring: a place where a fight takes place, such as a boxing ring boxing ring เวทีมวย -
  • roar: a loud continuous noise made by the wind or sea, or by a machine - เสียงดังลั่น
  • rooster (noun): a male fowl or chicken; a cock - ไก่ตัวผู้
  • round: one of a series of events, activities, etc. - รอบ
  • routinely: regularly, done often - จำเจ, บ่อยๆ, ซ้ำซาก
  • sparring: fighting -
  • spur: sharp blades or knives attached to feet or legs -
  • stadium: a large closed area of land with rows of seats around the sides and often with no roof which is used for sports events and musical performances - สนามกีฬาที่มีอัฒจันทร์โดยรอบ
  • suck: to pull air, smoke or a liquid into something - ดูดเข้าไป
  • surround: to be everywhere around something - ล้อมรอบ
  • technically: according to an exact understanding of rules, facts, etc. -
  • tie: having the same number of points, rank, etc. - ได้แต้มหรือคะแนนเท่ากัน
  • tolerate: accept behavior and beliefs which are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them - อดทนต่อความยากลำบาก
  • torture: causing great physical or mental pain to someone intentionally - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
  • tradition: a very old custom, belief, or story - ประเพณี, ขนบธรรมเนียม
  • turn a blind eye: to deliberately not pay attention to; to ignore - ทำไม่รู้ไม่ชี้ ทำเป็นไม่เห็น
  • underpass: a road or path that goes under something such as a busy road, allowing vehicles or people to go from one side to the other - ทางใต้ดิน
  • unregistered: not having a license or the correct papers to do something - ไม่ได้ตีทะเบียน
  • valuable: worth a lot of money - มีค่า
  • vast: extremely large in area, size, amount, etc. - กว้างใหญ่, มหาศาล
  • violence: physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people - ความรุนแรง, การใช้กำลังทำลาย
  • welfare: good care and living conditions, in this case, for animals - ความสะดวกสบาย, ความมีสุขภาพดี, สวัสดิภาพ
  • wrap: to cover something completely in paper or other material - ห่อ, คลุม
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