Police in Tianjin recently cracked down on a gambling ring of cricket fighters, seizing around 370,000 yuan and hauling off 62 people involved.
While it may sound innocuous enough, compared to, you know, dog-fighting, cricket-fighting is actually pretty serious business, and for some, requires extensive investment. When it’s not part of an illicit underground cricket fight gambling market, the traditional sport is actually celebrated across China. Each year, 25 major cities take part in regional cricket fighting championships, winners of which advance to the national championship in Beijing.
Male crickets used for fighting typically cost around 10 to 50 RMB, although some people spend up in the thousands for a champion cricket, according to Kim Kyung-Hoon, a Reuters reporter who spoke to sellers about the sport. Those who are extremely dedicated to the sport spend thousands of yuan and several hours a week taking care of the crickets, as well.
The opposing crickets are placed in a round, transparent ring and separated by a small panel as their handlers provoke them with straw sticks. When the crickets start getting riled up, the panel is lifted and they fight for a good three seconds, until one runs away or stops chirping.
Sounds intense. Throw some baijiu, tens of thousands of yuan and a rented house operating as a gambling den in the mix, and you’ve got yourself some lucrative, illegal fun. Watch a round of cricket fighting here.