As a service to our readers, we want to point out that the North Carolina General Assembly has just amended the state law on cockfighting. As of today, “[a] person who instigates, promotes, conducts, is employed at, allows property under his ownership or control to be used for, participates as a spectator at, or profits from an exhibition featuring the fighting of a cock is guilty of a Class I felony.” Previously, guilty persons were charged only with a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Long gone are the days when the fighting cocks of North Carolina were a matter of state pride. In B.W.C. Roberts’s article, “Cockfighting: An Early Entertainment in North Carolina” (North Carolina Historical Review, July 1965), we learned about the great battle between North Carolina and South Carolina in Wilmington in 1896. At the three-day match, called a “main,” the North Carolina cocks prevailed, nine to three. We checked the Wilmington Morning Star for May 8, 1896, to see how much attention the fights received in the local press. It was indeed front page news, though it warranted only a single, somewhat droll paragraph under the “Local Dots” section:
“A chicken dispute has been going on for the past three days about a half mile from the city limits on the Princess Street road, between North Carolina and South Carolina, the North Carolina birds winning the main.”