'Human cockfights' on Mohawk land foil court

Despite an 11th-hour injunction from the Quebec Superior Court aimed at blocking them, American promoters went ahead with a series of no-holds- barred human "cockfights" in a smoky hockey arena on a Mohawk reserve near Montreal on the weekend and broadcast them via satellite to North American audiences.

The promoters , who are allied with Penthouse magazine, and supporters among the local Mohawk leadership, defied the court order, claiming Mohawk territory is outside the ambit of both American and Canadian laws banning the brutal contests advertised as "Extreme Fighting, the most brutal event in the history of the sport".

The matches are a mixture of boxing, wrestling and martial arts. Unlike boxing, which is tightly regulated, with matches being divided into a fixed number or rounds, an Extreme Fighting match continues without interruption until one of the competitors is knocked out or quits from exhaustion.

At the Mohawk event there was a referee present and three doctors at the ringside, but they did not stop any of the matches which have no rules other than a prohibition against biting or eye-gouging.

The fights are aimed at the lucrative pay-per-view television market where an estimated 500,000 people watched the spectacle on Friday evening. As the controversy over the event intensified, some of the Mohawk leaders apparently had a change of heart. As a result, Mohawk tribal police backed up members of the Quebec provincial police force in a raid on a hotel early on Sunday morning where the combatants were staying, and made seven arrests.

Earlier, Guy Chevrette, the Quebec minister responsible for aboriginal affairs, called on the federal government to ensure another such event was never held on Quebec soil.

"It is evident that when an American promoter is barred in 40 American states and chooses another site to commit their illegal acts, we have to reinforce the Criminal Code to prevent these situations," he said.

The location of the fights was kept secret until tickets went on sale a few days before the event in an attempt to avoid legal measures to block them. When the government prevented the local telecommunications company from transmitting from the arena, the promoters rushed in a satellite truck and transmitted the event directly.

About 5,000 people paid up to C$200 (pounds 100) each for tickets to watch gladiators with nicknames like "The Iron Panther" and "The Iceman" punch and kick each other in the chest and buttocks. One match lasted only 44 seconds before one of the participants gave up but the other five fights lasted an average of 15 to 20 minutes each.

Labelled Battlecade II, this was the second such event organised by a New York company called Battlecade Productions which uses "Extreme Fighting" as a registered brand name.

Between each match, half-a- dozen Penthouse Pets in bikinis and high heels paraded around the ring waving at the mostly male spectators who shouted obscene propositions.

One critic described Extreme Fighting as a purely American creation "not simply because it is barbaric and cruel ... but because the barbarism is created for the purpose of being marketed".