Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Much a-doodle-do
about fighting

JERRY: But Kramer, cockfighting is an illegal and immoral activity!

KRAMER: Only in the United States.

LET'S take a look at the lineup of the Honolulu Quarterback Club. Hmm. Baseball broadcaster. Assistant football coach. "Former Saint Louis football player and current cockfighting advocate."


Meet Waldemar Doane, in the chicken fight game now for almost 50 years.

"I think it's a great sport," Doane says. "A beautiful sport."

Yes, there is violence and death. Blood? Sometimes.

But he believes in it.

These birds fight. It's what they do. Let them run free, and they'd kill each other in the yard.

A fighting chicken's life expectancy is one fight. If he wins, two fights. And so on.

"Is there an undefeated champion Muhammad Ali rooster?" Jim Leahey asks from the audience.

Doane's best bird went for nine fights, many years ago, had been cut only a couple of times in all those bouts.

But the last one was the telling blow. He died a winner.

But he died nonetheless.

The law isn't against cockfighting itself, Doane is quick to point out, but cruelty to animals. And most who argue against it, he says, have never seen it, never been. They don't know what it's like, not really. What the birds are like.

"I don't think the law is ever going to change," he says. "Some people say that it is cruel, and can't prove it.

"And my side says it is not cruel!

"And we can't prove it."

So instead he talks about things other than blood. Of training and nutrition.

"These cocks are athletes, whether you want to believe it or not," he says.

A University of Texas study showed the droppings will tell you if a fighting chicken is in shape, if he's ready, if you're feeding him just right.

"Now can you imagine yourself watching a chicken ..." Doane says. But he does. It's important.

He tells the story of two tour bus drivers who took a detour to the chicken fight, many years ago. It must have been a can't-miss event, because the buses were still full of tourists at the time, all about to get the really behind-the-scenes tour. There they were, Wilma and Mabel from Wisconsin, soaking up the action.

Some of them didn't want to get back on the bus to leave.

A well-conditioned athlete is a fighting machine, Doane says, leaping high into the air, kicking, kicking, kicking. And his voice says this is the proudest moment, that this is when a chicken is most alive.

That fleeting second is short-lived. The contestants, too.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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