Chicken Boxing


There are times when the Louisiana state capitol seems like the world’s tallest insane asylum. This week has been one of those times. In fact, there was a surreal Senatorial discussion about, uh, chicken boxing between NOLA city slicker JP Morrell and Elbert Guillory from Opelousas. Only a long quote will suffice to prove that I am not making this up:

State lawmakers spent a portion of Tuesday morning discussing the finer points of a “sport” known as chicken boxing. And no, it wasn’t an April Fools’ joke.

It happened in the Senate Committee for Judiciary C when state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, began discussing his Senate Bill 523.

The bill is meant to tighten the language in the state’s 2008 cockfighting ban.

The legislation would expand the state’s ban on cockfighting to include all types of chickens. It also would make it a felony to possess paraphernalia, such as razors, spurs, leather spur covers and other items commonly used in the sport that once was prevalent in south Louisiana but is now illegal.

Senators had few questions, except for state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, who said the legislation would shut down the sport of “chicken boxing,” a nonfatal form of cockfighting in which the birds aren’t outfitted with razors and spurs.

Guillory said he was especially concerned about the part of the law that deals with paraphernalia.

“Leather spur covers and plastic spur covers, um, that are used in the legitimate sport of chicken boxing might be considered paraphernalia,” Guillory said.

“Wait, wait, wait … chicken boxing?” Morrell said.

“Yes, chicken boxing,” Guillory replied.

At that point, it took Morrell a few stops and starts before he could articulate his point. A moment later, he was able to muster: “I appreciate your passion for your constituents, (but) I have no knowledge whatsoever on chicken boxing, so I cannot speak to that.”

Morrell continued, “If chicken boxing … I can’t even speak on chicken boxing. Honestly, I have never heard of that. It sounds like something to circumvent cockfighting.”

It was at that point that Guillory explained chicken boxing.

“No, no. Let me explain to you, senator,” Guillory said. “Just as dueling is a blood sport, two men fighting each other with swords is a blood sport that is illegal. Similarly, two men with boxing gloves on can box each other as a sport that is legal. This is the same distinction between chicken boxing and cockfighting.”

The distinction is clear as mud to me. It seems to be a way to get around the ban on cockfighting, but I’m a city boy so what the hell do I know about gamecocks and such?

There are two things about this story that I know for sure. First, Opelousas is one of the coolest town names in the known universe. Second, if I ever form another band, it will be called Chicken Boxing. Why not? Ry Cooder had the Chicken Skin Band. Here’s a song from them dedicated to the Roberts Court in the wake of another horrendous campaign finance decision. It was written by a bona fide commie, Woody Guthrie: