Shanghai police have smashed a professional cricket fighting ring in a raid that snared the city's most notorious handler of the insects, state media reported Thursday.
Police arrested 66 people and seized 520,000 yuan (72,000 dollars) at an illegal cricket fight on Monday night, a police spokeswoman said, confirming state media reports.
The blood sport, which dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), is flourishing in China's financial hub particularly among middle-aged unemployed men who bet tens of thousands of yuan on bouts, the Shanghai Daily cited investigating officers as saying.
In a cricket fight, handlers prod two insects with sticks until they are angry and then set them loose on each other in a box for a fight to the death. Gambling on these bouts is illegal in China.
Winning crickets can become famous and funerals have been known to be held for them when they are defeated. The prize fighters are fed special diets and are plied with female crickets to keep them in top form.
Somehow this just doesn't raise the same amount of ire in me as the Michael Vick dogfighting thing did. They're bugs, for Pete's sake. BUGS. Let the poor old men get their jollies pitting BUGS against one another... who cares? Sheesh.