For some time now I have been trying to get hard facts on some illegal Karate fights, some ‘human cockfights’ that have been taking place in a national park near where I live. It has proved most difficult, and rather than let the story drag out and sort of get lost, I decided it was important enough to at least discuss in Case Histories. Besides, to be honest, enough hard facts and I could be in danger of my life. A little ‘rumoring’ and I am sure the persons responsible for the ‘human cockfights’ will just chuckle at my inability to nail down the story.
The ‘human cockfights’ occur every couple of months somewhere near Los Angles. The promoters are said to be ‘highrollers’ out of Las Vegas with ‘mob connections.’ The reasons the fights take place in a national park in California are several.
One, Nevada is a state that protects legal gambling, and therefore would have the means and the desire to track down any illegal gambling.
Two, the park utilized is right near Los Angeles, which makes it convenient for the gambling crowd of Los Angeles.
Three, a national park is the right combination of good roads and isolation to make such an enterprise work. I might add, at this point, that the one person I talked to thinks the rangers actually get paid for aiding in the putting on of the fights. I have no idea if this is true or not.
The fights are advertised by mailing list. If you have been to the fights before you merely make it known to the right people that you wish to attend on a regular basis. You are then investigated and, if you ‘prove out,’ and if you show a predilection for gambling large amounts of cash, you are put on a mailing list. The way to get to the fights before you are on the mailing list is only by knowing somebody.
Say you know somebody. Comes fight night and you drive up through the national park to a specific but hard to find location. At that location you are inspected and passed. Listening to the way my source explained the ‘checking out’ process I wondered if license numbers are sometimes run through the DMV. At any rate, sometimes you are sent to second and even third locations before being passed through to the fight location.
Parking is apparently done in a field off the road, and from this location the spectators walk up a steep path which is continually watched by people at the top.
I have to say, at this point, that up to this time the fights can be called off on a moment’s notice, even if they are in progress. If agencies were able to raid the proceedings, which is unlikely considering that police bands are monitored and there is even a sky watch for helicopters, they would find only wealthy people dressed nicely (obligatory for attendance) and out for a large picnic.
The fight arena itself is a twenty foot space between two huge bonfires. This area is called ‘the pit,’ and people form a circle with the two fires at opposite sides. If fighters are thrown into the crowd they are thrown back.
I can only speculate on how fighters are found and selected. There seems to be no particular method to their selection or background. Most will have martial arts background, but that is not a requisite. What is a requisite is that they have an ‘attitude,’ and wish to pick up a few bucks. Pay is only supposed to range only a few hundred bucks.
Fights go for twenty minutes or until a fighter is unconscious. There is no quitting.
Knock outs are frequent, though it is not unusual for two fighters to fight the distance. Blood flows. Teeth are knocked out. Bones are broken, and in at least one instance there was a death.
Though the pay is minimal, the fighters exhibit fierce pride. In one year there were four house champions.
Betting is always against the house champion. No other betting is allowed.
There is no referee or doctor. If a fighter is damaged it is expected that the fighter will have friends to take him away.
I asked my source what happened to the fighter who died.
‘Al,’ he said, ‘You don’t ask, you just walk away. That’s the whole point of it.’
Gambling is fierce. My source estimates a night’s gambling to be around $400,000 dollars.
After the fight is over all traces are removed. The next day there is no sign that there has been a ‘human cockfight.’
Now, to be honest, I have a source, but no proof, and, actually, I don’t really want to pursue the story much further. I was quite excited about the story until my wife asked me one question. ‘What would you do if somebody was killed at this fight?’
I would then feel compelled to report the affair, and then I would be quite involved and quite at risk. I don’t wish for that kind of excitement in my life. If you do, then you are free to pursue this affair of illegal karate fights.