The Dark World of Balinese Cockfighting

cock fighting

Words by Michael Cunningham.
Photos by Albert Retief.

On an otherwise uneventful day in Bali, I found myself standing in the sweaty crowd of an illegal cockfight. Being the only white person present, I was left wondering what I was doing there, and more importantly, why I was betting money.

I know many of you reading this are already reaching for your pitchforks and blazing torches, and that’s ok. Cockfighting is a dirty sport, and one that probably shouldn’t exist, but the reality is that it does. I only knew of its occurrence through word of mouth prior to my first hand experience of it, and even then I compartmentalised it in a section of my brain I like to call ‘things that exist that I pretend don’t exist’ , and imagined it would do a life sentence there. However, when I was standing in front of that pit, watching two roosters fight to the death in a very violent display, I was forced to re-evaluate my entire outlook on reality, especially the dark side of it that I had simply chosen to ignore.

cock fighting
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