Peruvian Cockfighting and the Gallos de Pelea

cockfighting in peru
Owners wait in the arena with their gallos de pelea before a cockfighting tournament begins in Tarapoto, Peru. Photo © Tony Dunnell

Cockfights in Peru are well organized, reasonably popular and completely legal. There can also be significant amounts of money involved, with champion fighting cocks becoming prized and highly valuable possessions.

Most towns have at least one cockfighting arena, called a coliseo de gallos. Foreigners are welcome at the arenas, which are far from being the seedy venues typically found in countries where cockfighting is illegal.

Many outsiders -- as well as Peruvians -- do not like the sight of these gruesome battles, nor do they approve of cockfighting in general. But if you do want to go to a cockfight in Peru, prepare yourself for a potentially stomach-turning spectacle. It’s not easy to watch as the two fighting cocks -- gallos de pelea in Spanish -- slash and scrape at each other with their artificial spurs, nor is it uncommon to see a rooster lose its life on the arena floor.

If you do decide to attend an event, remember that the fights and the associated betting (a vocal and highly charged part of the entire scenario) are both legal. Cockfighting is a grim and saddening business, but it is part of Peruvian culture and remains a relatively popular sport in Peru.