By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
"Streetfighters," however, are much more haphazard and disorganized. They are also the types who just like blood sports. They acquire their dogs generally through classified ads, theft, or by any means necessary. Anybody can find a fighting dog, just look through the newspaper for pit bulls labeled "gamebred" -- the euphemism for fighters. Gene's own look -- which I can't honestly describe without getting him into trouble -- and his description of the owner of the fighting house we were going to in Wynwood, sounded to me like we were headed smack into the middle of the Heebee Jeebee Voodoo Circus street side of dogfighting in Miami-Dade County.
InThe 2000 Florida Statutes -- Title XLVI --Crimes, Chapter 828.122 --
"Any person who commits the acts of: (a) 'Baiting,' or using any animal for the purpose of fighting or baiting any other animal; (b) knowingly owning, managing, or operating any facility kept or used for the purpose of fighting or baiting any animal; (c) promoting, staging, advertising, or charging any admission fee to a fight or baiting between two or more animals" is guilty of a felony in the third degree.
Furthermore, " ... any person who willfully commits the acts of (a) betting or wagering any money or other valuable consideration on the fighting or baiting of animals; or (b) attending the fighting or baiting of animals" is guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree.
It was no surprise to me that just the act of attendingthis little sideshow was a misdemeanor. I had no moral qualms about that, nor did I have any ethical problems with gambling on the whole affair. That was half the reason I was going -- to gamble on something more exotic than the norm. I'm a hard-core gambler and I'd wager on the exact date of The Second Coming if I didn't think I'd already be at my rightful place in the Ninth Circle before I could collect from my bookie. Also, I was curious to see just how these dogmen handicapped their fights. That is, how did they project the lines for the favorites? In professional boxing, there are three outcomes with three money lines based on multiples of $100. For example, in the Smith vs. Jones fight -- if Smith is the heavy favorite, then the line might be Smith --800. Therefore, I would have to be willing to risk $800 in order to win $100 because Smith is deemed highly likely to win. Likewise, the comeback, or the other side, might be Jones +650. Therefore, if I risk $100, then I could win $650 because it is very unlikely that Jones will win the fight. Lastly, the draw might be +1000 because it is deemed virtually impossible that the fight will end in a draw. Of course, a dogfight never ends in a draw. I was ready for Gene to take me to the fighting house so that I could nail down the logistics of this thing and learn a little more about the betting side of it. I have had experiences with extreme gambling. The gods of gaming are willing to let you play with your only $150, but not with your last $150. But I've taken my last $150 to the craps table and turned it into $1500 on more than one occasion for the simple reason that if you want to make a million dollars, you have to be willing to lose a lot. These things are fundamental to a gambler. Play without fear.
With all of this in mind, I went to get my expense check for this piece. I sat in editor Jim Mullin's office at the New Times building and listened to him give me about twenty reasons why I would probably be wearing County Blues and working on the chain gang in less than 48 hours. New Times would, of course, have to hold me at arm's length, in the unhappy circumstance that this played out. In the interest of time and tact, all I could say was:
"I just spent two and a half years living in Central America," working for bookmakers. "If I were scared, then I wouldn't be here."
So I went back to South Beach and hunted around for my boy. I use the word "hunt" intentionally. I'd told him I would call him at 2:00 p.m. -- sharp. In fact I was back in our meeting place well before then, but he was nowhere to be found. I'd felt this was going along way too easily. Gene showed up about half an hour late and said the owner of the fighting house wanted me to come early so he could "talk to me," but that we wouldn't be going to look around, as originally planned. Gene had scored himself some weed and was going to sell it at the fight in order to make a little extra money. I had also agreed to compensate him as best as I could. Getting yourself inside an underworld activity is generally a transactional business. We agreed to meet later that night to go to the fight. The last thing he said to me was:
"I'll meet you on the Boardwalk and 24th Street at 8:40 p.m. -- I promise."