Monday, August 20, 2012

Mae Khue Cockfighting

Blood, feathers and cash...

Cockfighting in rural Thailand.

Over the past few weeks, I've spent a little time documenting this form of gambling as it was quite accessible by motorbike from Chiang Mai. I first visited the venue with photographers Fabian Weiss and Anna Spelman on Aug. 5. Then, on Aug. 13, I returned with photographer Spike Johnson to try and narrow the focus of the images a bit as well as capture more audio.

The format is very similar to that of traditional boxing-- trainers handle and care for their fighters with fervor and during the bouts betters scream out in both joy and anguish. In between rounds, the trainers work quickly to sew up the chickens while feeding them various synthetic steroids and energy boosters.  Fights do not go to the death, but rather, until one chicken either loses interest or becomes too weak to go on.

Below is an ambient audio mix I put together from the cockfighting venue. Turn up the volume...

Hundreds of spectators gather at a cockfighting venue near Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Betters scream out as a fight takes a dramatic turn.

Two chickens stare each other down during a fight.

Spectators count their cash during a fight in the main ring. Though very rare, bets in the main ring can run as high as 1 million Baht (~$31,700).

A spectator lights a cigarette during an intermission.

A man makes a bet in the small ring during a bout.
Trainers stitch and sew the wounds in their chicken in between rounds of a fight in the main ring.

Using a common technique, a trainer sews the bleeding eyelid of his chicken before taking it back to fight again in the main ring.

A cock waits in a cage outside of the venue.

A trainer waits to weigh-in before a fight.

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