TONTO PULLS DOWN his black beanie and walks under the carport of a two-story house tucked in Waianae’s Lualualei Valley.
He joins two men huddled in one corner and holding a small, black rooster.
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(That’s why he was asked to fight the black rooster at the Waianae fight, even though it wasn’t his bird.) There’s the rooster trainer, the heeler, who ties on the knife, and the pit- ter, who releases the bird inside the ring.
The fact that cockfighting is illegal doesn’t bother him.
(In 2015, Hawaii legislators introduced a bill that aimed to make cockfighting a felony, but it didn’t pass.) In 2016, Honolulu police narcotics/vice officers made three arrests for cockfighting, and nine for illegal gambling.
They square up, shake hands, then squat down and release their roosters.
The birds kick with their knifed legs, frenziedly flap their wings and peck each other’s necks, as their handlers scuttle around. He returns to his chair outside the ring, drops of blood on his crisp white T-shirt.
Extending the rooster’s right leg, the older of the two men quickly wraps the leg with red ribbon.
From a small wood box, he pulls a curved, three-inch blade – known as a knife or gaff – and meticulously attaches it to the rooster’s spur with dental floss.
Once it’s secure, he sheaths it and hands the rooster to Tonto.