Saturday, December 31, 2011

Diego Silveti On The Move

Since taking the alternativa, Diego Silveti,, the son of the late David Silveti, has been keeping family tradition alive, In a recent Mexico City performance he reconfirmed the initial hopes he set for himself as a novillero, by giving one of the greatest faenas of his life, in which he cut a tail.

In the weeks following this extravagant Plaza Mexico showing, Silveti has had other triumphs as well.

Having been seen in Spain, France and South America, as well as the major Mexican rings, he seems well on his way to carrying on the tradition of his father, uncle,  grandfather and great grandfather. Even an earlier injury in  Sevilla has failed to damper him.

Diego Silveti may well be on his way to figura status.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gaston Santos

He is still with us, though he has not fought bulls professionally for many years. That is up to his son, Gaston Jr, now. Gaston Sr devotes time to the family ranch, raising horses and bulls in the Mexican province of San Luis Potosi.

From the 1950s into the 1980s,  Santos was considered Mexico's best rejoneador and one of the top toreros off horseback in the world, appearing in both Spain and Portugal as well. He likewise starred in a number of Mexican movies.

During a long career, there were many great triumphs for this torero, but also some truly bizarre incidents, such as what happened in the old Nuevo Laredo bullring. Facing a cowardly bull which jumped the fence several times to try to escape rider and horse was a difficult task enough as it stood, but the animal, already judging its distance, had one more plan in mind,. Giving the wildest jump of all, it not only cleared the fence, but the passageway all together, landing in the stands. No one was killed in the mishap, but many fans  were injured. One of the other matadores on the card, Rafael Rodriguez, actually followed the beast into the seats and put it to death it there with a puntilla.

Santos was a mainstay in all of the major Mexican plazas and many minor ones,. Mexico City, Juarez, Tijuana, Piedras Negras, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales and Monterrey were a few of them.

The odd thing was Santos did not seem to like killing off horseback as much as he did on foot. Usually he would make a token entry with the rejon of death, dismount, take muleta and sword and kill with the dexterity of a Manolete.

One of many great showings along the Mexican border saw him kill in just such a way in Nogales, while alternating with Mario Coehlo of Portugal and facing bulls from his own ranch in 1977. He gave a superior presentation of mounted bullfighting, killed on foot with a  demolishing sword thrust and cut two ears.

Santos remains a remarkably sophisticated and educated man, who by the way, speaks eight languages


Friday, December 23, 2011

Antonio Osorio

A relatively obscure novillero from Colombia, Antonio Osorio died before he could truly make a name for himself. He was only 19 at the time of his passing.

In a novillada held in Venadillo, Colombia on May 30, 1965, Osorio alternated with Juanito Gomez to face novillos from La Chamba.

As Osorio attempted to place the banderillas with one of his animals, he was snagged and thrown to the sand. There, the bull gored him in the neck, severing the jugular.

The unfortunate torero had time to rise slightly, with his hands going toward his throat amid a torrent of blood. Nothing else could be done, as he died while being carried from the ring.

The Tragedy Of Legares

Manuel Legares was born in Spain in 1850 and made initial attempts as a novillero before realizing his calling was with the sticks. Thus, he became a banderillero instead, working in the cuadrilla of other toreros.

As was the custom in his era, Legares and his companions engaged in certain theatrics no longer practical in the bullfighting world. One was the pole vaulting over the bull. Not only was this torero accomplished with the banderillas, but developed a reputation for this stunt as well.

Until one time.

While attempting to pole vault over a bull in Madrid, he received a major goring. This did not kill him, but sidelined him for months and when he did attempt to return, hsi health and his nerves were not up to the task.

Slumping into depression at what looked to be forced retirement from the trade, Legares committed suicide in July of 1878 in his Sevilla home.

He cut his own throat with a straight razor.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Museo Taurino In Madrid

There are many fine bullfighting museums in  Spain, Mexico and South America. One of the most established and finest in all the world, however, is at the museo taurino in Las Ventas in Madrid.

In many ways it is a monument to death. One finds the suit of lights worn by Manolete on the day of his death and the torn blue and gold traje Pepe Mata wore when he took his fatal goring. There are the suits worn by the banderilleros, Mariano Alarcon and Coli on the days they took mortal wounds, with the former hooked in the intestines and the later hooked in the heart. A vest worn by Joselito on the day of his death is also on display, but the rest of the suit was shredded in a mad dash to remove his clothes and prepare the matador for surgery, which was never needed, for he died within minutes of reaching the table.

There are the mounted heads of numerous bulls who either killed toreros or provided exemplary faenas.

There is the death mask of Frascuelo. A death mask of Carlos Arruza may also be seen.

There are artifacts of El Gallo, Belmonte, Bienvenida, Bejarano and others.

There are numerous carteles and oil paintings.

There are busts and sculptures.

The magnificent museum is a must see for any aficioando.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Death Of Granero

It was in May of 1922 when Manuel Granero appeared in Madrid alongside De la Rosa and Lalanda. Already expected to replace the dead Joselito as Spain's top matador, the Valencian was capable with capote, muleta, banderillas and sword. He was the one the people had come to see, though the afternoon was filled with ill omens.

Granero had been plagued with dreams of received a bizarre goring through the eye and dying in the ring. He had been warned by fortune tellers of signs of pendign doom and had even been instructed not to go to Madrid, which in true torero form, he ignored. His head banderillero, Blanquet, had claimed to smell funeral candles where they did not exist, just as he had done before Joselito died in 1920.

Yet all seemed to be going well. Granero was applauded with his first bull, losing awards only because when he made his first entry with the sword, the blade struck a banderilla shaft and caused him to miss.

With the second bull he faced, Granero seemed confident. He had been applauded with the capote and started his faena with the pase de la muerte by the fence. It was then the animal gored him in the leg and threw him against the wooden barrier where he was trapped.

Granero's nightmare came to life, as the bull drove a horn into his face just below the eye and into his brain.

The matador was dead by the time he reached the infirmary.

The bullfight world was thrown into mourning,. Pasodobles appeared. singing lamentation in regard to his passing. He was buried beneath an elaborate tomb in Valencia, depicting his body benign taken to heaven by an angel. The black & gold suit he wore the day he died is on display at the bullfight museum in Valencia. Countless books carried photos of the goring and tales of his demise,. He is still recalled today in modern works. Books and DVDs still deals with his downfall,

Manuel Granero is remembered both for how he lived and how he died.

The Death Of Cesar Faraco

Last week Cesar Faraco passed away via natural causes. He had been retired from the bullring for some time, but had been operating a bullfighting school in San Cristobal, Venezuela for several years.

Faraco enjoyed tremendous cartel in the South American rings, as well as Spain and Mexico, where he was nicknamed ":The Condor Of The Andes" for his courageous style and determination to triumph with the most unworkable of bulls.

The matador enjoyed a big fan following along the Mexican border as well. I was on the border, however,  hat he came the closest to being killed. While performing in Juarez, he took a major wound in the lung, but simply proved too tough to die. He not only survived, but returned to the sand in record time in spite of the magnitude of this goring, amazing aficionados and doctors alike.

Cesar Faraco, qepd.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Alfonso Ramirez "Caleserito" was the son of the famed Mexican matador, Alfonso Ramirez "Calesero" and brother to Curro Calesero and Capitan.

Caleserito started in the early 1960s, appearing often on cards which included Manolo "Armillita" and Jesus Solorzano, also the sons of toreros,  as alternates. He had some impressive showings in the border towns and in Plaza Mexico, where he showed he had inherited his father's skill with the capote. The only vast difference in style from Calesero was Caleserito did not place his own banderillas, where his father made this a tradition.

Caleserito took the alternativa at the hands of his father in Juarez in 1965.

As a matador de toros, Caleserito was never able to duplicate his earlier success as a novillero in Plaza Mexico, but did become a hot draw in the smaller plazas. One of his greatest showings came in Nogales in May of 1970, when he and Arturo Ruiz Loredo faced bulls of San Carlos,. Caleserito cut an ear, Loredo cut a tail and both men left on the shoulders of the crowd.

Caleserito retired in 1975 to become a businessman in other fields.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Paco De La Fuente

From 1964 to 1973, Paco and Mario De La Fuente promoted bullfightign in the concrete ring in Nogales purchased from the original builder, Pedro Gonzalez. From the late 1970s into the early 1990s, they rented the ring to varied people, before Paco tried presenting novilladas again in 1991. He also operated a ranch in Durango for many years and used his own animals in some of the bullfights.

Paco helped negotiate contracts for many top toreros to appear in Nogales, most notably El Cordobes in 1969.

Other toreros who appeared regularly in Nogales during the De la Fuente years were Jesus Solorzano, Luis Procuna, Calesero, Joselito Torres, Arturo Ruiz Loredo, Mario Sevilla, Queretano, Antonio Del Olivar, Mauro Liceaga, Fernando Dos Santos, Paco Pallares, John Fulton, Robert Ryan, Leonardo Manzano, Armando Soares and Callao.

Paco De La Fuente died in 2008.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Luis Miguel Dominguin

Luis Miguel Gonzalez "Dominguin" was born in Spain in 1925. Fighting bulls from childhood, he took the alternativa in 1944, confirmed it in Madrid in 1945 and went on to ebcome one of the all time greats in bullfighting. The tradition was in his blood as the brother and son of toreros.

Tradition has perhaps unfairly branded him as the villain who helped push Manolete to hsi death in the infamous  1947 duel to end all duels in which he shared bill  with the legendary Cordoban and watched him receive a fatal goring in the groin.

In truth this bullfight was just a routine corrida geld in a  routine fair, made famous because of the way Manolete  died. It was not a bullfighting equivalent to teh final gunfight with lee Van Cleef, Eli Walalch and Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, but just another affair, though Dominguin was bent on upstagign his older rival. He and Manolete had met in other encounters beforehand and were set to appear with each other in the future, which was of course eradicated when Manolete died, making Luis Miguel the new number one by circumstances out of his hands.

In the decades to follow, Dominguin would become legendary for his exploits in the ring and his affairs with female movie stars outside of it. As he aged he would endure the competition of younger challengers, just as he had done with Manolete in his youth. He woudl retire and return to the ring at varied intervals. He woudl evens ee action in Yugoslavia in specie bullfight exhibitions. He would design his own suits of light..

Dominguin would play a bullfighter in Around The World In 80 Days and himself in the lesser known A Picasso Summer. He would serve as the prototype for the villain in Conrad';s Matador and Viertel's Love Lies Bleeding. He would be documented in countless videos and books about the bullfight. He and his then brother-in-law Antonio Ordonez would be the focus of Hemingway's Life Magazine, A Dangerous Summer, which would later be turned into a book. His own autobiography would appear in the early 1970s, titled Dominguin. He even made an appearance on What's My Line when making a trip to New York.

The legend came to an end in 1996, when Dominguin died following a stroke.

He rests within the Cementerio San Enrique in San Roque, Spain.

Friday, December 2, 2011

From A Dark & Murky Place

From A Dark & Murky Place is a horror book and e book out now. that includes one short horror tale related to the bullring. Orders at

Among the varied short stories combined into one bigger tale is Forcado, about a man who unknowingly buys a forcado cap at yard sale to use as a ski cap and find he gets more than he bargained for.

The cap evidently belonged to a certain Vitor Dos Santos, a satanic forcado killed in the ring, with a stipulation that via ritual sacrifices he may rise form the grave.

Not exactly Currito de la Cruz or The Brave Bulls, but.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leonardo Manzano

Coming from Tijuana, Leonardo Manzano was a champion swimmer before entering the bullring. In the Mid-1960s, he began as a promising novillero and picked up steam after taking the alternativa. Handsome, dashing and dominating, he looked and acted like a torero in every way possible. Manzano was especially known for his work with he banderillas, placing the cortos el quiebro with consistency. He wad also good with the sword.

Though he was seen regularly in the interior, he was more popular on the border.he appeared regularly in his native Tijuana and also in Juarez. Often, he alternated with the American, Robert Ryan, with whom he shared a similar style.

Manzano took the alternativa in Chuhuahua in 1967 at the hands of Joselito Huerta and Manolo Martinez, confirming it in Mexico City in 1968 with Manolo "Armillita" and Ricardo Castro bestowing the honors.

Though his name was Manzano he was often mistakenly listed as Manzanos in books and in programs, so often that he grudgingly accepted this misspelling of his name whenever ti happened.

Nogales was another border plaza where Manzano became a regular. One of the greatest showings of his life took place in this ring in September of 1970 while alternating with Arturo Ruiz Loredo..He was tossed during the faena with his first bull and took a slight puntazo in the calf that did not hamper him from continuing. Three sword thrusts lost the ear, however, and limited him to a lap around the ring.

With his second bull, he excelled with the capote and placed three great pairs of banderillas, including his anticipated cortos.

He then gave a long faena and capped it off with a great kill to win ears and tail.

A repeat corrida, with old rival Robert Ryan in this same ring a month alter did not go as well. He took a vuelta from his first bull and heard only mild applause from his last when the beast sat down a la Ferdinand and refused to fight.

Manzano eventually retired from the trade and settled down to a quiet life in Tijuana, though he was frequently seen long afterward as a spectator in the area bullrings.