Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Manolo Martinez-The Book

Not fancy, but a fitting tribute in English to this complex torero from the start to the finish. Hopefully Spanish rights will be sold and a longer edition with a load of pictures will come out from this one day, but for nwo only the English version in book and e book is available. Orders may be made in book and e book from at now.


Mexicali, located south of El Centro, California, has long been a popular border town destination for travelers. Over the decades, bullfighting has thrived there.

For decades, a  wooden ring held corridas with Armillita, Joselito Mendez and  others beign seen. Sadly, this ring burned down in a fire in 1955 and the owner, Santiago Alvarez, died from a heart attack before it could be built.

An odd sidenote would be continual appearances by the fickle Lorenzo Garza. One account has people objecting to his plan to make a farewell appearance in this ring, because over the years he had already "retired' and returned at least 3 times.

In the years that followed, people just went to Tijuana or San Luis Rio Colorado for corridas, but in the early 1970s an effort was made to hold novilladas in the lienzo charro or rodeo ring. Various obscure novilleros  appeared there with moderate success. The high point came when Eliseo Gomez "El Charro" who lived in nearby Tecate made an appear  in a mixta alternating with unknown novillero Luis Martinez.These novilladas would sett he stage for the return of bullfighting on a major scale , with the construction of the 10,000 seat Plaza Calafia

In the early seasons, the promotion would book not one but three figuras for the cartel.  Manolo Martinez would become a regular, where he established himself as a major attraction. On one afternoon he faced and killed six bulls himself as lone matador.

Curro Rivera would become another figura to achieve maximum prestige in this ring, He would be seen on numerous afternoons and score triumphs though a much hyped mano a mano saw him come out on the short end when competing with Eloy Cavazos. The normally popular Rivera encountered problems with the sword and cut nothing where Cavazos cut an ear form two of his three bulls and received a vuelta from the other.

Others to appear in the early history of the plaza were Jaime Ostos, Paco Camino, Antonio Lomelin, Cruz Flores, Bernardo Valencia, El Queretano, Marcos Ortega, Mariano Ramos, Jesus Solorznao, Manolo Mejia  and Ernesto Belmont.

In the 1990s, David and Alejandro Silveti became the toreros to watch. On occasion the two brothers appeared together, as in one 1991 corrida where unexpectedly, Jesus Solorzano stole the show when his second bull of the day received an indulto due to bravery and was sent back tot he corrals alive.

Alejandro was especially known for his faenas and for his performance of the pendulo pass with the muleta  where he shifted the lure and took the bull behind his back.

In recent years the temporada have not been as spectacular as they once were. The promotion has changed hands a few times. Other events such as concerts and wrestling have also been held in the Calafia. Still, the beautiful bullring remains a focal point for border bullfights.

Others who have appeared over the years in La Calafia include Manolo Arruza, Pana, Zotoluco, Chilolo, Napoleon, Fernando Ochoa, Glison  and Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza.

No one has ever been killed in La Calafia, but the banderillero Pepe Luna took a major leg wound that ruptured the femoral artery while in the cuadrilla of Manolo Arruza. Alarm went through the stands as the corrida continued and gossip circulated that the man had died, when he in fact had not, but would survive and return to the ring some weeks later as good as new.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Parade Of Famous Masons

Not a taurine topic on the surface, but this book covers members of the masonic lodge in all walks of life who gained some sort of fame. Orders via now. The project is available in book and e book forms.

 The first section of the book lists famous masons in names and categories, including toreros. The final two thirds offer bios of some of these people.

Among the bios are those of the late rejoneador Zoio and the French torero, Marc Serrano.

Serrano has become a popular figure in the bullrings of France and Spain in recent years.

Also included is the antitaurino, Vicente Blasco Ibanez who accidentally made bullfighting all the more popular when he tried to discredit it with his novel, Blood & Sand.

I feel it might be an interesting read for lodge members and nonmembers alike.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Paco Pallares

Coming from Salamanca, Spain, Paco Pallares gained great reviews and raves as a novillero, with triumphs in both Madrid and Barcelona as well as smaller plazas to his credit. He was especially emotional with the muleta and decent with the steel.

Some critics contend his career was hampered by a major goring in the neck in 1966.

In any case, Pallares continued to strive onward in his chosen profession, but would find greater success in Mexico after taking the alternativa.

Nogales became a scene of varied triumphs. In May of 1971, he and Arturo  Ruiz Loredo faced bulls of Gustavo Alvarez. Both men failed miserably with their first animals, but then cut ears from their final bests of the day. Gaining a return contract, Pallares repeated alongside Raul Garcia in July of that year, alternating with Raul Garcia to face bulls of El Romeral. Garcia cut an ear and Pallares cut ears and tail, while facing the final bull of the day in a tremendous thunderstorm. Sopping wet and trudging across a sea of mud, The Spaniard made a dramatic figure, squaring off with both the bull and the elements to give the faena of a lifetime.

In 1972, Pallares came back to Nogales to alternate with Jesus Solorzano to face bulls of Milpillas.  He took a vuelta form his first bull of the day and cut an ear from his third, which was a sobrero for a bull he fought second and broke a leg.

His presentation in Tijuana, alongside Jaime Rangel and Alejandro  Otero, however, did not go so well.  He  could only manage a few decent muleta passes with difficult bulls and received mild applause at best.

Upon returning to Spain, Pallares retired but remained involved in bullfighting as a bull breeder, promoter and manager. He was still involved with various elements of the bullfight and in other businesses at the time of his death.

His son also entered the bullring as a torero.

The 1916 Double Header

On August 27, 1916, a bizarre double header took place in Spain, where two novilleros were killed the same day.

Antonio Carpio was killed by a bull from Rivas in Astorga as he went in for the kill and took a massive leg wound.

Gorings were nothing new to Carpio, as an admirer and imitator of Juan Belmonte, but this go of things he bit off more than he could chew.

On the same afternoon, another young novillero, Andres Gallego, took a minor wound in the abdomen while working with the capote in La Coruna.

Medics did not diagnose the injury properly, figuring it only to be a puntazo. The torero was bandaged and he returned to his hotel room to rest.

Kare that evening the torero complained of massive intestinal pains. Too late it was discovered he had been hurt worse than expected. Rupturing inside, he fell victim to peritonitis and thsi ebign an era before the advent of antibiotics such as penicillin, he died.

This afternoon in August would have to go down as one of the bloodiest in bullfighting history.

Carpio rests amid a fancy stone in Valencia. No one seems sure where Gallego was buried.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fermin Spinola

From a promising novillero in the 1990s to a highly-regarded matador in the 2000s, Fermin Spinola has made the grade in the Mexican rings.

Spinola took the alternativa in San Luis Potosi in August of 2000 and int he ten years that followed he fought 179 corridas, cutting 272 ears and 10 tails. he also faced two bulls that received indultos or pardons and were set free.

Since then, he has continued as strong as ever.

Tijuana has been the scene of some of his best showings along the border in recent years, as well as Juarez, though he has offered triumphs in many interior plazas as well.

Like many great Mexican toreros from the past such as Calesero, Arruza, Procuna and Leal, Spinola has proven himself versed in the placing of the banderillas.  He has frequently tried the dangerous el quiebro method of placing the barbs, where he lets the bull come to him rather than running toward the animal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Death Of Gabriel Espana

Details remain vague as far as what I have received, but retired matador Gabriel Espana , was kidnapped and killed this week in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico.

Espana was popular in Mexico in the 1980s, though never a true figura. One of his distinctions was serving as testigo in Mexico City when Raul Garcia confirmed the alternativa at the hands of Callao. All three men dressed in green and gold that afternoon by pure coincidence, leaving one critic to comment the plaza looked like it was being overrun by big blades of grass.

Farewell, Gabriel....

Cesar Giron

One of a family of 13 children, Cesar Giron and three matador brothers went on to become the epitome of Venezuelan bullfighting. Even today, long after his passing, the dynasty continues with new members of the Giron family carrying not the traditions of old in the ring.

Cesar Giron proved to not only be a major draw in South America, but a torero of maximum cartel in Mexico and Spain as well.  He was talented in all parts of the corrida, but especially the banderillas. He took Madrid, Sevilla and other major Spanish rings by storm, competing with the best that country had to offer and often surpassed them.

One of his greatest afternoons in a long career came in his native Venezuela, in Maracay, where he and the famed Luis Miguel Dominguin met in an intense mano a mano corrida. Both toreros left on the shoulders of the crowd, with Giron cutting a tail off the last animal of the day,

Mexico also became a stronghold for him. He proved to be a top drawing card in the border town of Juarez where, though he was starting to show hsi age at the time, he offered moments of brilliance expected from others much younger in age.

Mexico was an area where he also took some serious gorings, including a puntazo in the face that could have been much more devastating.

Truly, he was one of South America's most recognized and loved of toreros.

In 1971, he died not in a bullring, but in a  traffic accident. He was killed almost instantly when a piece of jagged metal from the mangled car entered into his head. Ironic and heartbreaking that a man who survievd so many corridas would leave this world in such a way.

His legend, however, lives on.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ernesto San Roman "El Queretano"

Ernesto San Roman "El Queretano" was an extremely short person in height, but long in courage. Coming from Queretaro, as his name suggests, he was recognize dearly on for having nerviness few could match. One of his trademarks was to take the bull on his knees, directly in front of the toril, while barely giving the bull room to pass him. At times he worked, but at other times it did not, as in Nogales in 1971, when he was tossed completely over the fence by a bull from Gustavo Alvarez.

Queretano received numerous gorings in his long career, butt he worst came in Acapulco in 1972, when a horn caught him in the intestines and stomach. This was the closest he came to dying and he missed several contracts while recovering.

The border towns were especially strong for him. Mexicali, Suarez and Tijuana were places where he did well,  but Nogales was the scene of some of his best showings. In November of 1976, he appeared alongside the American, Diego O" Bolger, cutting four ears and a tail for his labor
 Other plazas where he triumphed in one form or another include Queretaro, Los Mochis, Chihuahua,  San Miguel Allende and Zacatecas.

Upon retirement, he became a manager for a comedy team of midget toreros. Afterward, he assisted several relatives to enter the bullring, most notably his nephew, Oscar San Roman.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Antonio Lomelin

Antonio Lomelin was one of the most complex individuals to ever enter the Mexican bullrings. Talented, but often gored, he was one of the bravest of the brave in front of the bulls, but his life outside the plaza was plagued with scandal and brushes with the law. Hus life ended traumatically, neither by natural causes or on the horns of a bull, but in his home, where he was found dead with a gun in his hand.

Born in Acapulco, Lomelin first attracted attention as a novice due to his stunning work with the banderillas, and better than average skills with the muleta, which he of course improved upon as a matador de toros. A series of initial triumphs at the La Aurora ring in Mexico City in the early 1960s indicated great things to come.

As a novillero, however, he also started receiving some of the first of many gorings that would physically take a toll on him, In 1965, he was gored badly in the groin in Puebla and again in nearly the same part of the same leg in Monterrey a year later. In 1967, he took yet another  major goring in Plaza Mexico while placing banderillas. Yet when he managed to stay off the horns, he was busy amassing an army of fans and a string of triumphs bullrings large and small.

In 1967, Lomelin took the alternativa in Irapuato at the hands of Manuel Capetillo and Joselito Huerta, facing animals of Rancho Seco.

The ritual was confirmed in Plaza Mexico and in Madrid.

One of Lomelin's early triumphs as a matador and perhaps one pf the greatest showings of his life  wpuld  come in the border town of Nogales in 1968. Alternating with El Queretano and Ricardo Castro, he cut ears and tail of both bulls.

Though he would become a regular in Tijuana and score many triumphant afternoons there, he would also receive one of the worst gorings of his carer, when placing the sticks in a  1971 corrida. As he turned to escape the bull, he was hooked from behind and gored in the back, with damage to the liver. In spite of this, he not only lived, but returned to action in short order.

In 1975, he would receive an equally horrendous goring in the intestines while placing banderillas in Plaza Mexico.

This was to be a repeated story throughout his life. Goring after goring, but triumph after triumph in between. He excelled with capote, banderillas, muleta and sword.

Piedras Negras, Juarez, Aguascalientes, Guadalajara and Acapulco were just some scenery for outstanding showings, He also appeared regularly in Mexico City.

 Juarez was another city that embraced him, as noted. In the Plaza Monumental he offered many outstanding faenas, while sharing the bill with Cavazos, Gabriel Soto, Finito and other worthy alternates.

Sadly, he could not keep his personal demons under control. The less said about this the better. Then the tragic ending.


Horacio Casas

Aguascalientes has produced many fine bullfighters on foot. El Estudiante, Fabian Ruiz, the Sanchez brothers, Moro and the ill-fated Juan Gallo who died before he could reach fame might be a few of them.

There has been at least one rejoneador from Aguascalientes also. Jose Luis Rodriguez "Praga" fought on foot in  the 1970s and switched to horseback in the 1980s. 

Enter Horacio Casas on the present scene.

An exciting horseman with great skill, Casas has risen in the ranks over the past few years and has been seen regularly within the Mexican interior.

Keep an eye out for him and check him out if the opportunity arises.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Manolo Martinez

 Manolo Martinez was born in Monterrey and rocketed to fame after an outstanding series of novilladas in Guadalajara and other locations. He took the alternativa in his home town at the hands of Lorenzo Garza and Humberto Moro.

Spain, however, was a disaster for him and a land he could never really conquer. Though he managed triumphs int he smaller rings, he also received major gorings prior to the confirmation of his alternativa in Madrid. This much-hyped ritual at the hands of Viti and Linares was a complete disaster. His normally fluid capote and muleta work was flawed and his kills were horrendous. After this appearance, Martinez annoucned he was leaving Spain and would never be back.

In Mexico, he was regarded as one of the all-time greats. He appeared on the card Plaza Mexico countless times and cut awards, including incidents where he acted as lone matador, facing six bulls. Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Toluca and other interior rings were locations for multiple triumphs.

The Mexican border became the location of many grand performances as well. Tijuana, Mexicali, Juarez and Piedras Negras were plazas where hew as seen again and again with great results.

In 1970, Martinez gave two phenomenal showings in Juarez, In one he cut ears, tail and hoof and in another he left on shoulders where again, he acted as lone matador, killing six bulls himself. That same season in Tijuana, he cut ears and tail while competing with Victoriano Valencia and Arturo Ruiz Loredo.

May of 1974 saw Martinez gave one of the most glorious performances of his life, when returnign to Tijuana to compete with Ruiz Loredo and Curro Leal. Failing with his first bull and seeing Leal cut ears from his first animal stemmed an urge to triumph in Manolo, who cut ears and tail from his second.

During the years to follow, Martinez would retire once, make a comeback and then retire again. He was reportedly speaking of a third return to the rings when he suddenly felt sickly in 1998. It was discovered he had cirrhosis of the liver, a diabetic problem and a damaged heart. He naturally curtailed plans for a comeback and engaged in a bitter fight to stay alive. Sadly, he passed away in San Diego, California, while awaiting a heart transplant.

A gigantic statue depicting the matador in action stands in front of Plaza Mexico where he filled the ring so many times. His ashes are entombed within this monument.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gallito's Demise

The son and brother of bullfighters, Jose Gomez "Gallito" or "Joselito" or "Joselito El Gallo" was one of the greatest toreros of all time, by whatever name he was or is called. Complete and chariosmatcio in all aprts of the bullfight, he was so masterful he never received a major goring until the one that killed him. Many contend it was not the horn wound itself, but the shock at seeing himself so badly injured that caused fatal trauma to set in. Had he received such a wound in modern times he most likely would have survived.

On May 16, 1920 in the town of Talavera De La Reina, Gallito appeared with his brother -in-law, Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, facing bulls of the Vda. De Ortega herd. The animals offered nothing and even the great Gallito could only manage mild applause.

The fifth bull of the day, named Bailador, was a small toro and had a visual defect. It was for one unfortuante monent Gallito forgot or ignored this while working with the muleta and positioning the beast for the kill, that he was hooked in the abdomen. More liekly than not, the bull never even saw the target it horned.

Trying to rise on the sand, Gallito held back his escaping intestines with his hands. Giving a look of utter horror. it wa sevident he was stunned any bull could have done this to him. He screamed the name of a famous horn wound specialist as he was being carried to the infirmary and evidently never lost conscious from the pioint of being injrued until he died some twenty minutes later.

"Mother, I am smothering," he cried out to his deceased mother on the operating table as medics prepared to do what they could to treat the wound. It was at that point he passed into the history books.

The bullfight world found it hard to believe this master of the arena was dead. When told by phone that Gallito had died, Juan Belmonte thought he was the victim of a sick practical joke. It was only two calls later from others that reality set in.

"I cried as never before," Belmotne would confess to the press.

Gallito rests beneath an elabortae tomb in Sevilla's San Fernando cemetery.

A vest of red silk and gold spangles worn on the day of his death may be seen in the Museo Taurino in Madrid.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Rejoneo is the art of fighting bulls off horseback. Portugal has always dominated this style Tito Semedo, Moura, Telles, Duarte, Bastinhas, Rui Fernandes....the list goes on and on.

Whether he was one of the greatest or not might be arguable, but Zoio was one of the most beloved.

Not only did Zoio spend two decades excelling in Portuguese rings before an elaborate retirement in Lisboa, but made several appearances in Spain as well, including Las Ventas in Madrid.

Not onlt was Zoio an outstanding mounted torero, but also found himself big in many charitable and fraternal societies away from the ring. He was a high ranking member of the Masons in Portugal and the Scottish Rite.

Aside from performing himself, Zoio was instrumental in the training of many younger rejoneadores.

A g heart atatck took this man from us a while ago. He was only in his late 50s at the time of his death.

The legacy, however, lives on.

The Tragedy Of Zorro

El Zorro did not live long enough to become a legendary matador such as Manolete, Joselito, Cordobes, Orodnez or Dominguin. In fact, he did not live long enough to take the alternativa. During his short career, he seemed brave enough and was especially good with the sword, but hiow far he might have gone would be anyone's guess. He was just not given the time and luck ran out for him.

It was on May 25,1958 that a large crowd was on hand in Barcelona to see the bulls of Spanish matador, Pepe Luis Vazquez make their debut for the first time.  This, rather than the novilleros contracted to face them,  evidently proved to be the true drawing power of the cartel.

Zorro was his usuual brave self, though the animals clearly presented a challenge to him. He tried his best, mustrering applause with both capote and muelta, but did not manage to put together anything that would have been considered a major triumph. Thus, he gave up and aimed with the sword, which was after all, one of his strong points.

The actual thrust looked perfect at first, for Zorro embedded the blade to the hilt, but it was at that moment he was lifted off his feet and the crowd knew something was wrong.

He took a routine tossing. There was nothing spectacular about it and he was not hurled through the air like a gigantic bird. He did, however, get hooked in the abdomenal area, with the horn penetrating his intestines. He was lifted high off his feet and unceremoneously dropped. That was all there was to it.

Likewise, thoguh the wound appeared serious, it did not look to be fatal in the eyes of the fans. They did not see the terror in the faces of the medics when the unfortunate novillero reached the operating table and it became evident just how critically he had been hurt.

Zorro died half an hour after being hooked by his novillo. His injuries were so extensive, there was little to be done excpet watch him slip away in the infirmary.

Thus died a willing and ambitious torero who showed much potential. Instead of leaving in triumph on the shoulders of the crowd that day, he left on a stretcher with a sheet over his face.

Zorro went from the sands of the Barcelona bullring itno the history books.

His real anme was Rafael Martin Vinara and he was born in the province of Ciudad Real in 1931.

Tocame La Cancion De La Muerte

Una novela de toros y terror desde el ingles original, desde  Dale Pierce.

Ordenas desde

Bebe Chico

Jose Rodriguez "Bebe Chico" was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1870 and spent a career as a capable, but modest bullfigther..

Like many olden day toreros, Bebe Chico spent several seasons traveling in the cuadrilla of established matadores to learn the profession, before embarking on his own as a novillero.

Bebe Chico took the alternativa in Madrid in 1900 at the hands of Minuto. In this corrida, Minuto received a serious goring, which dampened the entire affair.

Bebe Chico contineud as a matador for varied seasons and decided to become a banderillero, working for other men. Among those he served was a fellow Cordoban known as Manolete, who was the father of the famed torero of the same nickname.

Though never a graet matador, he left his mark on the profession.

He died in 1922.