Raising Gamecocks in France
Luo Haodong was born in Chengdu, and succeeded his father as a chef after graduating from high school. Luo Haodong’s cousin Wu Xiaopin, who had moved to France several years prior and ran a Chinese restaurant in Paris, invited Luo Haodong to go to Paris to help him. Helpless to resist his brother’s silver- tongued persuasiveness, Luo Haodong finally accepted the offer. After a four- month crash course in French, he boarded a plane for France.
Seduced by the Thrill of Cockfighting
Luo Haodong’s cousin put him up in the basement of a building. Every day at the crack of dawn, his voice echoed down to the basement like the shrill morning crow of a cock, rousing Luo Haodong from his nightly slumber. Though his culinary creations were fanatically favored by customers, and raked in a pretty penny for his brother, he was unfortunately granted the paltry sum of 500 euros per month as compensation for his services.
Luo Haodong began looking for other money-making opportunities. One day, he was surprised to hear from a waiter that the chicken sold in the restaurant was the beaten game fowl in a bout of cockfighting. It was then that he learned that cockfighting was legal in France.
His curiosity piqued, Luo Haodong went to watch a cockfight in person. The moment he entered the cockpit, he was overwhelmed by the feverish atmosphere. Although he knew nothing about the sport, under the influence of the crazed energy and manic wagering he put down his own money on a match.
Luo Haodong bet on a cock named Sword. At first, it seemed that Sword was powerless to parry an opponent’s peck, but just as Luo Haodong began feeling overwhelmed about his loss, a long and deafening scream pierced his ears. He opened his eyes to see Sword making a series of deft moves that culminated in a hole being pecked right through its opponent’s neck. The cock bled profusely and fell right to the ground. That day, Luo Haodong won 1,500 euros and got
acquainted with a cockfighting fan named Rode, whom subsequently became a good friend of his. The two men often shared their enthusiasm for cockfighting with each other.
A Sudden Flash of Inspiration
Soon Luo Haodong quit his job at his cousin’s restaurant and threw himself full- time into cockfighting. He bought some books on cockfighting in an old book stall. After getting familiar with the game, he went to a cockfighting pit in Auchel. The Pas-de-Calais pit was the largest in France. It was there that Luo Haodong won 2,000 euros in one day, but lost more than half of it the next day.
Luo Haodong thought it too risky to only bet on the game. To make money quickly and consistently, he had to be a cock owner. So he paid 400 euros to join the cockfighting club and became a game fowl owner. Shortly thereafter, Luo Haodong bought two gamecocks and raised them on bean sprouts and honey.
At the first few matches, Luo’s gamecocks took in the handsome sum of 4,000 euros. But a week later, they ran into some tougher opponents and lost 3,000 euros. Seeing his two gamecocks bruised and battered all over, Luo Haodong’s heart went out to them. Rode offered him some encouraging words, “China is the birthplace of cockfighting. There must be plenty of tricks to winning the game in your country.”
Hearing this he was suddenly inspired. He learned from the Internet that there were many ways to train gamecocks. Besides the basic training, it was equally important to train them to be tenacious fighters with a good stamina the ability to peck hard, and a ferocious killer instinct, to improve their aggressiveness and accuracy in bringing down an opponent.
To tap into the treasure trove of secrets of gamecock training, Luo Haodong flew back to China, and spent three full months in the cities of Heze in Shandong Province, Xi’an in Shaanxi and Zhangzhou in Fujian, collecting materials from door to door and visiting the local old- timers who raised and trained game fowl. Meanwhile, he tried to train some twenty gamecocks in the new methods he learned, which brought winning results.
Later, Luo Haodong came up with an i dea—to run a poultry farm of gamecocks in France, raise and train them by the Chinese techniques. After returning to France, he shared the idea with Rode who strongly concurred. Rode had some money and a small lot of land in the countryside of Auchel, which was a good place for raising game fowl. Soon, their new venture, simply called the Hao and Rode’s Farm was opened, and they singled out some fifty Gaul chicklings to be raised in the farm.
A Rise to Fame
Luo Haodong allowed his gamecocks to roam freely outdoors, foraging on an open range, to arouse their wildness. He left his gamecocks with a halfempty stomach to force them fight for food. He would take them for a walk for one hour every day, with small sandbags tied to their legs, and chase after them. He would also massage their legs and wings to promote blood circulation, and to strengthen their muscles.
On March 14, 2001, Luo Haodong brought his gamecocks to the match held in the biggest cockpit in Auchel. He picked three smart and valiant gamecocks, naming them “Yellow,” “Vulture” and “Invincible Swordsman.”
The three gamecocks were quite high- spirited that day, making accurate and ruthless attacks. They pecked, clawed and flapped their way to a string of easy victories. The audience cheered and whistled for him. He was later mobbed by crowds clamoring to inquire about how he had managed to raise his super-
powered gamecocks. Seizing the right moment, he held up a board on which was written, “Hao and Rode’s Farm— raising the best gamecocks by ancient Chinese Secrets.”
A year later, more than four hundred half- trained gamecocks were fully grown at Hao and Rode’s Farm, taking in 50,000 euros.
Later, after discussing with Rode, Luo Haodong decided to focus on well-trained gamecocks, so that his customers could put them right into a fight after buying them. Although the profits of well- trained gamecocks were higher than half- trained ones, it took more time and effort to raise them. Moreover, Luo Haodong incorporated the experience and learning from other countries to innovate the art of breeding game fowl.
During the rainy season, when it was not suitable for outdoor exercise, Luo Haodong had a specially designed treadmill, on which his gamecocks could practice running. And after the training, he would feed each of them with a vitamin pill and give them a massage. On clear days, he would drive them outside to sunbathe, which thickened their skin, so that they could withstand their opponents’ attacks.
Soon afterwards, Luo Haodong’s well-trained gamecocks were available for sale on the market. Due to their superior body constitution, his gamecocks were the iron- willed, steel- armored overachievers in battle, bringing in huge profits for his customers and commanding every higher price. By 2006, Luo Haodong and Rode had made more than 500,000 euros for selling trained gamecocks.
On his success, Luo Haodong remarked, “If you want to make a living in a foreign country, hard work is not enough. You have to put your brain in gear if you want to really come up with new ideas.”
( From BusinessStory , June 2009. Translation: Zhu Yaguang)