A glimpse of cockfighting on Kauai in the ’60s

A glimpse of cockfighting on Kauai in the 60s

I’d never seen a cockfight until I first came to Kauai in the 1960s, and it was with great curiosity that I looked forward to observing one, as I sat in my wife’s step-grandfather, Agapito Sadang’s, old Dodge one Sunday, while he drove me from his house at Kapaa Stable Camp to Kumukumu Camp above Kealia to watch the big chicken fight being held there – the only one I ever attended.

Cockfighting — a blood sport introduced into Hawaii by Filipino immigrants during the early 1900s — was a regular Sunday event on Kauai back then, and there must have been at least 200 gamblers and spectators at Kumukumu Camp that day gathered about the ring, where pairs of birds fought each other to the death with sharp metal spurs attached to their natural spurs — an unforgettable experience.

Other popular cockfighting locales of the time included Hanalei Valley, Anahola Bridge, Kapaa’s Waiakea Canal, Keapana Valley, McBryde Camp 7, and Kekaha.

And, as is the case nowadays, it wasn’t illegal to attend a cockfight on Kauai, or to possess fighting cocks and spurs. However, one could be charged with cruelty to animals or gambling offenses.

Kauai Police Chief Edwin Crowell — an advocate of stiffer cockfighting laws — declared in 1967 that “The charge here is cruelty to animals, which means we can arrest only the two men whose chickens are fighting.”

On the other hand, Louie Gonsalves, then a Board of Supervisors member said, “I’m much in favor of legalizing chicken fights. I’d rather see 500 to 1,000 people at the fights than in a bar creating a disturbance. The fights are like a picnic to them. They aren’t disturbing anyone.”

Taking the middle ground was County Prosecutor and future Kauai Mayor Eduardo Malapit, when he stated that he supported legalizing cockfighting, but opposed gambling: “Sure, legalize chicken fights. They are no worse than putting two men in a boxing ring or 22 men on a football field. I condone cockfighting, but gambling is something else.”

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