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Cops KO giant battling insects

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Hong Kong punters with a penchant for the unusual will have to get their gambling jollies without the participation of giant insects after local police busted an illegal cricket fighting syndicate.

Feds slapped the cuffs on 115 miscreants at what was apparently a sort of entomological Fight Club between belligerent crickets from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou. The raid - in Kowloon's Monkok district - netted 200 crickets, $HK8,000 (around $1,000), "small baskets that were used to house the insects and bamboo sticks used to agitate them".

Monkok police inspector Angus Yeung Fu-yin explained that while gambling on dogfights and clashes between birds is commonplace, "Gambling of this type is very rare here although it was very popular in the old days, so we were very surprised when we first heard about it."

The South China Morning Post points out that the venerable sport of cricket fighting "can be traced back to the Tang dynasty of 618-907 and had long been confined to aristocrats, senior officials and wealthy merchants. Winning brought honour while losing meant shame". The paper adds that cricket coaches hunt down the stroppiest insects and devote much time and energy turning them into six-legged Mike Tysons. A champion cricket can secure up two thousand dollars for a KO and transfer fee of 20,000 yuan ($2,600).

Mercifully, police confirmed that the busted betters did not have any known connections to organised crime. Presumably, the triads are too busy organising dogfights where a winning pooch can scamper off with a $HK1,000,000 (about $128,000) purse. ®

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