Cockfight in Bali

The cockfight in Bali is very well known and gets a lot of attention outside the beautiful island, for example in the international news coverage as well as in movies, music videos and on platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Although cockfighting is well known and such an event can be appealing to some people, attending a cockfight involves some risks. Now you can find out how cockfighting came about in the first place and what makes it so appealing for participants and breeders alike.

Amshudhagar, COCK FIGHT, CC BY-SA 3.0

The history of cockfighting

The origin of cockfighting in Bali, is not fully understood. Thus, it is believed that it was introduced in the tenth century as part of religious ceremonies. Since religion is very important in Indonesia and the country is very traditional, cockfights still take place nowadays.

In Indonesia, cockfighting is considered a social activity. It combines various aspects of life, including entertainment, gambling, customs and honor. The ritual can be a fascinating experience for anyone interested in this subject. The social and religious components surrounding cockfighting in Bali make it a popular attraction for visitors.

Fighting cocks in cages in Bali
Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas or alternatively © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, Besakih Bali Indonesia Roasters-in-Baskets-01, CC BY-SA 3.0

The rules are simple and a fight is often over quickly

The cockfight is quite simple and starts with attracting a group of roosters. Two breeders agree on the opponents and then loudly shout the respective preferences of the animals in the arena.

Once the roosters are in the willow cage, the fight begins. The roosters try to stab the opponent with a blade sharper than the rooster’s beak.
Depending on how many animals are involved, the fight can last between five and ten minutes. There is a timekeeper sitting on a table in the right corner. The end of the fight is reached when an animal dies or is seriously injured.

In order that a cock does not lose, breeders use various means to dope the animal. Caffeine and painkillers are often used and their feathers are pulled out before the fight to encourage their aggressiveness.

Betting is part of the cockfights

Even though gambling in Indonesia is often punished with harsh penalties, betting is simply part of the cockfights in Bali. The stakes are high, sometimes monthly salaries are bet on one of the two opponents.

This behavior is passed down from generation to generation. Grandfathers sit ringside with their nephews and nieces and cheer on the cockfights. In fact, betting is at the heart of many visitors and breeders, without gambling cockfighting probably would not be so popular.

The masculinity character

A cockfight in Bali is like a teenager’s hotrod drag race. It is a test of manhood and a test of a man’s strength. The bigger and more successful the rooster is, the more respect he deserves. The cockfight can be transferred to private life or professional life in that men compete.

Cockfighting in Bali is very similar to dogfighting in the United States. Both are performed in front of a large crowd, and the ritual is very short. One of the fastest fights ever took only five seconds.

Where do cockfights take place?

In Denpasar, professional cockfights used to be a daily event. Meanwhile, the fights take place in different locations, often announced via social media.

To maintain a traditional cockfight, roosters do not need to be hidden and are often kept on the street in cramped cages. However, in the event of a raid, the cockfighting material can be easily tracked down and the animals can be confiscated in the event of a police raid. However, police officers usually behave neutrally and do not break up the event.

General information on the legal situation

The gambling aspect of a cockfight in Bali has been the subject of debate and controversy for many years. The central government prohibits gambling, but in Balinese tradition it is allowed during religious ceremonies. Although the Indonesian public shuns cockfights, they are still popular with some locals but are hidden from tourists as well as authorities.

In reality, there is an unspoken compromise between the two sides. As long as everyone pretends to be neutral or unaware of the fighting, it will continue.

Is chicken eaten in Bali?

Although eating roosters is illegal, it is culturally accepted. The traditional diet of Indonesians is rich in animal protein, which makes an important contribution to the health of the island.


A cockfight in Bali is a popular event where fame, glory and lots of money are at stake. Law enforcement often looks the other way, and breeders of the winning animals get to enjoy a lot of money and a dinner. From an editorial point of view, we distance ourselves from cockfighting simply because of the animal cruelty often applied and associated with it.

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