Sun, 23 Mar 2003

The cricket fighting club

Cricket fighting is a passion among many Balinese, who say the sport has existed on the island since long before World War I. Like cockfighting it is a man's sport, only in a smaller space.

To be eligible to enter a fighting club, crickets have to meet certain criteria regarding their size, teeth, age (they must be less than 10 days old) and sex (males only).

Fighting crickets can be bought in the market or from vendors for between Rp 2,000 (20 US cents) and Rp 3,000 each.

Like a professional boxer, the insects undergo rigorous training. For a day or two before a match, the crickets are hung upside down in the morning to strengthen their bodies, then bathed and massaged.

Their diet includes rice mixed with sadek, a mixture of fish meat, nuts and spices. One cricket receives three grains of rice in the morning and the afternoon.

The fight rules are as follow: At least 20 crickets of similar size are collected.

Once the crickets are gathered, the fighting begins in a bamboo box measuring 30 centimeters by 20 centimeters. The fighting lasts for between one and five minutes.

A cricket is deemed to have lost once it has been wounded. The losers are dumped in a glass jar while the rest of the crickets continue with the match.

Cricket owners can place bets on their insects of between Rp 50,000 (US$5) and Rp 300,000.

Since the insects only live for 30 days at the longest, there are no official rematches. Text and photos by Kiki Ahmad