Rais­ing Game­cocks in France

在法国养斗鸡

Special Focus - - Contents - Feng Li 冯丽

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)

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