Senate holds fast on ‘chicken boxing’

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Monday that would strengthen the state’s 2008 ban on cockfighting.

Senate Bill 523, sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, would expand the state’s ban on cockfighting to include all types of chickens. It also would make it a crime to possess paraphernalia, such as razors, spurs, leather spur covers and other items commonly used in the sport, together with chickens that have been trained as fighting birds.

The measure passed on a 31-7 vote, but not before senators again debated the merits of a “sport” known as “chicken boxing.” The topic flared up last week with state Sen. Elbert Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, arguing on behalf of chicken boxing enthusiasts.

Monday was no different. Guillory explained the chicken boxing is a more humane alternative to cockfighting.

He likened cockfighting to dueling where “men hacked at each other and slashed at each other until one of them died. But in chicken boxing, he said, “there is no blood, there are no knives and there is no abuse.”

He held up a pair of florescent rubber “chicken boxing gloves” that attach to the feet of fighting birds to prevent them from injuring their opponent. He complained that, under Morrell’s bill, the gloves would be considered paraphernalia and could lead to people being charged with a crime.

“Don’t criminalize a harmless sport, tax it,” he said.

Guillory tried but ultimately failed to weaken the bill with an amendment to exclude certain paraphernalia. The amendment died on a 8-29 vote.

SB523 now heads to the Louisiana House for consideration.