Federal law won't stop Guam cockfights, enthusiasts say

A federal ban on cockfighting signed into law by President Donald Trump this week isn’t likely to stop what is viewed by many as a cultural tradition, according to Guam residents engaged in the sport.

“It’s a tradition; it’s a hobby,” said Frank Taianao, a Department of Corrections officer and longtime cockfighter. “We’ve been doing it since we were kids. How are we going to start arresting people for doing something they’ve been doing their whole lives?”

Cockfighting, legal under Guam law, also supports a number of businesses. The Dededo cockfighting pit hosts fights every weekend, with entry fees ranging from $250 for a derby Friday night to $700 for the finals Feb. 15. 

When Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 in Washington on Thursday, he also established a federal ban on all animal fighting in the U.S. territories, potentially shuttering businesses like the one in Dededo.

It is unclear how the federal ban will be implemented and enforced when it takes effect a year from now, especially if cockfighting remains legal under local law.

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