Where and how did the sabong in the Philippines really start?

There are many tales and stories that can be gleaned from the true origin of cockfighting – or more popularly known as sabong in the Philippines.

Besides in the Asian countries, it’s also possible to find cockfights – legally or not – all over Europe, the Middle East, and also in Central and South America.

In order to get to know a little bit more about sabong, we’ve connected with sabong expert Evelyn Balyton, who did all the tough research to come up with a good part of the text you’re about to read. You can get to know more about our author here.

A brief summary of what you can expect to find throughout this article:

  • Early Sabong Origins
  • Countries Where It’s Famous
  • Brief Description of How Things Work

Without further ado, let’s get to the text!

Early History

It is clear from history that Ferdinand Magellan and Figefetta, sailors from the Kingdom of Spain when they landed on the coast of Palawan were surprised to find that the natives of this island were already fighting the native chickens.

The foreigners could clearly see the enthusiasm and joy of the men as they witnessed what we know today as sabong.

Spaniard sailor Figefetta wrote in manuscripts some of his thoughts on the new experience he witnessed with his pal Magellan.

Some of those were crucial to spread sabong throughout Europe.

How Things Really Work

Later on, we know that every continent in the world has its own set of chickens they fight.

In Asia, chickens can weigh more than three kilos and they can both fight armed or unarmed.

By armed, we mean that they can literally be equipped with blades and special knives attached to some part of their bodies, so that damage can be done with ease.

The chicken will be declared winner if the opponent has run away and/or is no longer able to fight back. It is a battle of courage, endurance and wetness.

In Thailand, sabong is also part of their tourism where they feed with these huge chickens and there are jurors who give points to each other’s beat like boxing. We can notice that once in a fight, usually the chickens hardly fly and only their heads, wings and feet are used as defense against the opponent.

The cockfight lasts about an hour and the really good ones knock down their opponent by hitting the opponent’s head.

These chickens undergo intense training like a pro human boxer because they prolong and strengthen their fight.

In this battle, there are special challenges where the final goal is to only hit each other’s head, and there are also other challenges where cocks are supposed to dodge and evade the opponent’s blows.

Every place in the world has its own style of battle, weapon and different rules.

There’s no draw, as the winner of the battle will always be declared. You can even bet at some fights depending on where you’re based. You can get to know more on online sabong betting on the attached link.

Curious Facts

Some say that at tough war times Kings of the Middle East usually tried to gather up courage and inspiration by watching cockfighting.

A good example is that before the soldiers go to war, the King will fertilize them to entertain them and inspire the courage of the chicken in battle.

In this battle he gathers soldiers and fights the two chickens until one dies or surrenders in battle.

After this battle the King would speak on the lesson brought about by the courage and the ‘never die’ attitude of the broiler chickens.

This is the approach of every soldier whenever they fight in war and this is also what their King expects, fight to the last breath and to the last drop of their blood.


Newcomers, there are so many cockfighting stories that could touch our hearts. The lessons it brings and above all the happiness that cockfighting brings to the many who are obsessed with it.

Depending on your background, you’ll likely be in agony at any sign of violence, and there’s absolutely no problem with it.

It’s indeed a tough sport and there’s a bit of cruelty to it. And that’s exactly why Kings from the past used to take the brave roosters as examples of bravery, as the level of cruelty in a war is almost immeasurable.

That is only one of the reasons why sabong drives Filipinos and many others crazy. It’s kinda part of their culture, and we should always respect it.

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