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Cockfighting thrives in full view in Philippines

Big bets and raucous crowds fuel ancient blood sport outlawed in much of Asia

The World Slasher Cup, a 10-day event that organizers dub the Olympics of cockfighting, is held twice a year in Manila.

MANILA -- The Beach Boys played here. So did Elton John and Lady Gaga. And later this month, the Miss Philippines pageant contestants will promenade under the massive dome of the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila. But on this day, the spotlights shine down on poultry.

It is the World Slasher Cup, the Olympics of cockfighting, according to the organizers, held twice a year in this 25,000-seat arena. "Slasher" refers to the three-inch-long, razor-sharp blades attached to the birds' feet. But to the 1,000 or so people filling the floor and parts of the lower bowl of the stadium in the middle of the 10-day event, which culminated with the grand finals on Feb. 7, the action in the center ring is as much about beauty as blood.

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