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Cock-fighting

was introduced into Britain by the Romans. It was a favourite sport both with the Greeks and with the Romans.

That beats cock-fighting.
That is most improbable and extraordinary. The allusion is to the extravagant tales told of fighting-cocks.

He can only relieve his feelings by the ... frequent repetition,
`Well, that beats cock-fighting!'

Whyte-Melville.

To live like fighting-cocks. To live in luxury. Before game-cocks are pitted they are fed plentifully on the very best food.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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