Dog's Best Friend?

Bobby Hall -- one of the most famous dogfighters in America -- literally wrote the book on his profession. In BullySon and His Sons, printed in 1986 by Walsworth Press, Hall chronicled his at the time 26 years as a dogfighter and trainer in Houston. Hall did not respond to a written request for an interview, but his book offers a fascinating look at the strange relationship between a dogfighter and his dogs.

He wrote lovingly of his most famous dog, BullySon: "To me, he was the Cassius Clay and the Elvis of the dog world." And that made Hall, in his own eyes, the Angelo Dundee and Colonel Parker of the dog world.

Hall also revealed his affection for another dog, Diablo. Hall had been in a "keep" with Diablo, conditioning the pit bull for its first fight. One evening, about ten days before the match, Hall was awakened by the sound of the treadmill turning.

"I got up and went to the back door," Hall wrote. "There was Diablo working himself, wagging his tail and barking. He looked me in the eyes and grinned. His whole body expressed the attitude of 'I'm not tired, let's work some more!'

"I can't express the feeling that came over me at that moment. I lifted Diablo from the treadmill and held him to me. I took his face into my hands and looked into his eyes trying to communicate to him, the only way I knew how, the feelings that were flowing through me. I took him into the house to my bedroom where he spent the remaining ten days before the battle with me."

There were other fighting dogs that Hall recalled fondly, such as Jeremiah, his first, and Booger Red, "one of the gamest dogs I ever owned."

Before each fight, Hall would shave his dog's tail. Other fighters, said Hall, believed it was part of some voodoo ritual. But in a sort of now-it-can-be-told tone, Hall revealed that his practice of shaving the animal's tail was just his way of adding "a little class" to the fight.

In the 1960s, Hall had a training camp in the vicinity of Antoine and 43rd Street. But the migration of families into the northwest suburbs forced him to look for something more secluded.

"Since Houston was growing up, the subdivision I had previously used was a full-fledged community," Hall lamented. He relocated his camp to a spot halfway between Houston and Galveston, about 25 miles from his home. "Before me lay miles and miles of still vacant fields," he wrote.

Before he trained and fought dogs, Hall was a fighter himself. As a youth on the poor streets and alleyways of Houston, Hall took to boxing. In one of the many photographs of himself in his book, he proudly points out how his nose had begun to flatten from taking punches. His career as a pugilist apparently had not progressed very far when he decided to do his fighting vicariously.

In BullySon and His Sons, Hall described the visceral satisfaction an owner can have watching his dog rip the tongue out of a another dog's mouth; he also defended the sport.

Once, he recounted proudly, a woman asked a friend of his what sort of SOB fights dogs.

"A man who loves dogs very much," Hall's friend replied.
-- Steve McVicker


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