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Cockfights in Mallorca


The other day I went back to a place in Manacor where I had watched a cockfight some 30 years ago. Cock fighting is a blood sport between two roosters, held in a ring called coliseo or arena palenque (cockpit) with seats for spectators. Cockfights are now illegal in Spain with the exception of the Canary Islands, and in most of Europe, as far as I am aware. I have a feeling that it was illegal in Mallorca already in the late seventies as well, but it was practised regardless whereas nowadays, one can no longer ignore the law. As you can see from my photo, the Manacor coliseo is now in a very bad shape and quite obviously, is totally abandoned.

Cockfights are still widely popular and a legal sporting event in much of Latin America and South East Asia, including India and China. Advantage is taken of a cock’s natural and strong will to fight against all males of the same species. Roosters are specially bred to increase their aggression and stamina; they are given the best of food, care and consideration. The cocks are often equipped with gaffs tied to their legs as a reinforcement of their natural spurs.

The fight is not intended to result in the death of one of the animals but it may end that way because the birds never stop fighting till the very end. Of course, gambling is always involved in cockfights, as it was in Mallorca when I witnessed one all that time ago. No, I did not place any bets at the time, and sadly, I did not take any photographs then, either.


I had been invited to attend the Manacor spectacle by Francisco, a local farmer whose speciality it was to breed fighting cocks. On one occasion he invited me back home to his finca to proudly show me his gallos. I can’t imagine that Xisco is in the breeding business any longer. He must be in his seventies by now and well into his retirement.

The photo (top) was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 30th, 2009. The time was 17:38:38. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet; the cocks are fighting somewhere in Thailand. My thanks go to Sanuzbord.

5 replies »

  1. How they can ban cockfighting but not bullfighting is beyond my comprehension. Spaniards are decades behind the rest of the world when it comes to humane treatment of animals (Perhaps because of Franco’s long reign of isolation? Never seen so many half-starved dogs tied to trees on two-foot chains…) but hopefully this is beginning to change because otherwise, Spain is the loveliest country in the world. In my time here, I have learned that in this domain, we expats must lead gently by example and hope it will inspire our gracious hosts.
    Please keep up your thought-provoking work, sir. I read it daily with relish!

  2. Cockfighting is not cruel & for the record, the Spanish cockers never put metal weapons on their cocks in Spain. The cocks in Spain only ever fought in their own sharp natural spurs which nature gave them. The Spanish Game fowl are the most ancient chicken breed in the World, this breed has been in Spain for the last three thousand years, they were brought to Spain by the Phenicians around three thousand years ago. The fighting cocks which entertained the ancient Greeks & Romans were Spanish Game cocks. These Spanish Game fowl are the most Beautiful in the World. They are living History & part of our European heratige & culture. The Spanish goverment which banned the cockfights are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites, who are full of double standards. The reason why the Spanish goverment banned the cockfights is because cockfighting is mostly a working class sport. But the reason they would not dare ban Bull fighting is because the people involved in Bull fighting are the rich people who have lots of money. In Spain it’s one law for the rich & one for the poor. Double standards.

    Cockfighting is still fully legal in France, they fight in gaffs (metal spurs) in France. Bull fighting is fully legal in France too. France is a much more fair country compared to Spain. In France they treat rich & poor the same.

    • Your reply shows the whole issue from the perspective only of the human eye, its history, its culture, humans finding this cockerel the most beautiful in the world etc., but where is the side of the animal’s fears, injuries and pain in your argumentation? France allows cockfighting in the north and on the Isle of La Réunion. It is high time cockfighting and bullfighting is banned in the whole of Europe and the world even.

  3. Thanks for this valuable information. There is a great deal of mis information regarding cockfighting in Andalucia. I live near Velez-Malaga and understood that there were fights every Sunday. Many villagers breed fighting cocks where I live. My neighbour told me that his grandson fights cocks and asked me if I was interested? The grandson was clear that “some people” fight cocks but that its illegal in Andalucia. The atmosphere got quite tense. I think there’s a bit of out-dated or mis information that’s being copied onto information sites regarding Velez-Malaga.

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