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Cockfighting -- a savage and noble sport

Page 2 columnist



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Failure and shame are both extremely painful jolts to any sane or Right-thinking person, but they are rarely Fatal to humans -- unless they happen simultaneously and/or repeatedly, for six or eight days in a row. That is what medical scientists call a "Chain of Failure(s) of Unacceptable Magnitude" that can result in "Massive Insult to the Tissue."

The chances of these things occurring all at once in the lifetime of any living person are about three (3) in every 10,000, they say. ... Which seems vaguely reassuring.

But most Life Insurance companies will not offer to cover it -- except to well-paid professional athletes who can afford to pay very high Premiums, which run about $10,000 a month in today's NFL, and even more for professional Golfers on the PGA circuit, who are 12 times more likely than the rest of us to be struck and killed by lightning.

I was brooding on these numbers last week, when ESPN's SportsCenter led off with a genuinely horrifying Bulletin about the fate of San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, Jerry Rice, who holds every significant record for wide receivers in the history of the NFL or any other league.

The news bulletin hit me with the force of an Axe coming down on my collarbone. I cried out and fell back in my new Cockfighting chair -- which had just arrived by Fed-Ex as a Father's Day present from my good friend, Benicio Del Toro, the famous Puerto Rican knifefighter.

Cockfighting chair
The Good Doctor's new cockfighting chair, a gift from actor Benicio Del Toro.
"Hot damn!" I thought, suddenly remembering it was Cockfighting season again in Puerto Rico. I could hardly wait to get down there on the outskirts of Rio Piedras & have another go at those savage damn birds!

I love a good Cockfight. There is a joy and Nobility about it that no other sport can match -- including Golf.

You bet! The Gambling around a big-league Cockfighting Pit is faster than anything the Internet ever thought about. Those crazy little bastards will bet $5,000 in 30 seconds, just by raising a Thumb above their shoulder to accept a bet from a total stranger on the other side of the Pit, at any stage of the Fight -- which can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 35 minutes, depending on how Strong the roosters are.

It's a terrifying spectacle. The howling & screaming & stomping on the cheap wooden bleachers of the Cock-Pits is Deafening, utterly deafening. The noise will peg a Decibel-meter and keep it pinned for so long that the normal Human ear can't tolerate it. ... I have seen rich white men in perfect physical condition turned to helpless Jelly in three (3) Minutes of their first Cockfight.

It is like taking your family out to the Fairgrounds on the 4th of July to watch the famous (U.S. Air Force) "Flying Thunderbirds" put on a spectacular Air Show, and seeing all Four (4) of the F-4 jet fighters suddenly Dive straight down like Bombs and Crash into the Holiday crowd, right in front of you. ... WHACKO! A huge Explosion, then a hideous ball of Fire & blood & jagged Titanium shrapnel that instantly Kills (or Maims, Beheads or Scorches 100 or so innocent Spectators to death ... in the blink of an Eye ...

Horrible, eh? You bet, and I'm not kidding you. This has actually Happened -- to the Thunderbirds & a few other world-renowned Flying teams. The most recent was sometime in the 1990s, I think. Four in a row: WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

It's on Film. You can Look it Up, as they say, on the Web. I know you're Good at that. But don't let the Kids watch.

  The Gambling around a big-league Cockfighting Pit is faster than anything the Internet ever thought about. Those crazy little bastards will bet $5,000 in 30 seconds, just by raising a Thumb above their shoulder to accept a bet from a total stranger on the other side of the Pit, at any stage of the Fight -- which can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 35 minutes, depending on how Strong the roosters are.  
  

Right. And so much for That, eh? I was halfway through Pilot-training in the Air Force when I saw my first AF Flying team disaster. That was down in Florida, at Eglin AF Base, at a practice run for the annual "Firepower Demonstration." I never climbed into another Cockpit.

(Whoops! How about that? Weird, eh? COCKPIT/Cock-Pit .. One bloody memory stirs up another.)

Help! Now I'm having flashbacks about when my best Photographer went to cover the once-famous "24-Hour Formula One Grand Prix at Sebring" & never came back to work. He was smashed into Hamburger when he was trotting across an "Exit ramp" with his camera. I had to write his Obituary for the Sports Section that night. ... It happened about two weeks after that ungodly disaster at the Fire-Power Demonstration. I almost went Crazy-drunk & AWOL for two (2) Months, in Tallahassee & Mobile & New Orleans. I went from Top Gun to Psychiatric Observation Status in what seemed like the Speed of Light.

Ho-ho. Never mind. Benicio will go with me to Puerto Rico for a meeting with the new Governor, Sila M.Calderon. She was very excited by Benicio's recent Oscar for his starring role in "Traffic."

"Yeah," he said. "She wants to have a big party and give me the Keys to the City." He chuckled. "Hell, we can go anywhere we want in Puerto Rico now. She loves me."

"Wonderful," I said. "How about Vieques? That's where I want to go as soon as possible -- to see how much damage out Navy has done to the island."

"Those bastards!" he snarled. "They are bombing the place to death. I've been trying to stop them for years! But they keep right on bombing and shelling the place and tearing it all to pieces -- like it was some kind of Enemy Territory!"

"I know," I replied. "I used to go there constantly when I worked in San Juan. It was beautiful, back then. Vieques had some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean -- And some of the best Cockfighting, too. That's why I spent so much time there. I did a lot of Research on Cockfights in Vieques when I was writing my book."

"Hot damn!" he said. "The Governor read that book you wrote about it. She loved it. She told me 'The Rum Diary' made her laugh so hard that she can hardly wait to meet you in person. She will let us use her plane, to fly anywhere we want to in Puerto Rice when we get there." He laughed again.

"And we'll sure as hell want to go to Vieques, won't we? She hates the U.S.Navy."

"Me too," I told him. "I have hated the U.S. Navy all my life -- or at least ever since they started bombing Vieques."

"Perfect," he said. "We will fly over there and raise vicious hell with the Navy -- maybe drop a few 55-gallon Garbage Bombs on them -- from the Governor's personal airplane."

"Good," I said. "I know Bombs. I dropped Hundreds of bombs when I was in the Air Force."

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.



hey, rube! 


ALSO SEE:
Thompson: Wild Days at The Sports Desk

Thompson: Jack Kerouac and the Football Hall of Fame

Thompson: Patrick Roy and Warren Zevon -- two champions at the top of their game

Thompson: How 'bout that Patrick Roy?

Thompson: Going to war for justice

Thompson: The Derby & other gambling disasters

Thompson: The Fourth Stooge?

Thompson: Bad craziness at Owl Farm

Thompson: Notes on the wrong way to gamble

Thompson: Notes on the wrong way to gamble

Thompson: Where were you when the Fun Stopped?

Thompson: Memo from a gambling victim

Thompson: Cat scratch fever

Thompson: Gamblers, beware the ides of March

Thompson: A crime against nature

Thompson: XFL, R.I.P.





 
    
 
 
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