Monday, April 30, 2012


Federico Pizarro has been a mainstay in Mexican bullrings for many years now, rising from the ranks of a charismatic novillero to a full matador de toros. From his early showings in Plaza Mexico onward to some of the smallest of pueblos he has always maintained and endured. In bullrings large and small, he has made his name known.

Within the Mexican interior, Zacatecas, Jalpa, Orizaba, Torreon and Rio Grande  have been some of the settings for repeated triumphs,  while on the border, Tijuana and Juarez have been locations where he has offered some amazing faenas.

Though he has continually shown with the muleta, it is arguably with the capote that he is the strongest.

Pror to it being torn down, Pizarro was a familiar face at the Plaza Monumental in Juarez. He was seen regularly the last few seasons before the arena was demolished. One of his greatest showings there came in the summer of 2000 when he cut two ears.

 Pizarro was born in Mexico City in 1971 and first started gainign attention for himself as a major novillero in the early 1990s. He took the alternativa in Juriquilla in 1993 at the hands of Nino de la Capea and Jorge Gutiererz. The ritual was confirmed the following year in Plaza Mexico with Capea and Gutierrez again carrying out the ceremonies.

 Though he is not as active as he once was, he has put together quite a career for himself and one to be proud of.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Manolo Mejia

During the 1980s, Manolo Mejia became one of the foremost of Mexican toreros. Starting out as a child facing salves, he rose to stardom as a novillero paired alongside Valente Arellano and Ernesto Belmont. Together they formed quite a team, sharing the banderillas. giving motivated faenas and scoring numerous triumphs.

The three way competition ended shortly after Arellano took the alternativa, for in the summer of 1984, he was killed in a tragic motorcycle crash.

Both Belmont and Mejia went on to become matadores, taking their respective alternativas and continuing in the profession.

Mejia went further  than Belmont and endured much longer in the bullrings, where he is still active to this daym though not with the consistency of times passed. He made it to Spain and France as well, where was was continually impressive . He even faced the Miuras.

Tours of South America also proved profitable, including a successful tour of Peru. 

Tijuana has been a ring where Mejia has scored repeated triumphs, exciting the crowd with a combination of kneeling passes and cortos placements with the banderillas, along with some genuine artistic moments.

The Calafia bullring in Mexicali is another plaza where he has gained great cartel, again offering a variety in his work that thrills all the aficionados in one form or another.

The Plaza Monumental in Juarez was also a plaza where he registered many triumphs, prior to the ring being torn down some years back.  One of his best afternoons came in a corrida there many years ago alongside Rafaelillo and the late Pepe Luis Hurtado, where all three men cut awards and with three distinct styles, managed individual success beyond the hopes of any fans in the stands.

Yet Mejia has not been taken seriously just along the border, having been seen in virtually every major bullring in the Mexican interior and many minor plazas as well. He has been seen often in Plaza Mexico, where aiming other things, he took part in bestowing the title of matadora upon female bullfighter, Hilda Tenorio in a very important corrida.

Over the years, Mejia has alternated with all of the Mexican stars of his era,  including Manolo Arruza, Federico Pizarro, Alfredo Gutierrez, Jorge Gutierrez, Miguel ":Armillita:, Eloy Cavazos, Mariano Ramos, Fermin Spinola and more, bringing out the best in them as well as himself.  In many cases, he has outlasted his rivals.

Ole, Manolo, ole!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guillermo Carvajal

A charismatic matador de toros who overcame a near-fatal bout with hepatitis, multiple gorings and many political enemies behind the scenes of the bullfighting world, Guillermo Carvajal came from Durango, Mexico to become a popular figure in the 1950s through the 1960s.

Carvajal was known for his skill with the capote and muleta, though his kills were inconsistent. He placed the banderillas on very rare afternoons , when the mood fit him.

Though never a true figura, Carvajal found success in both mexico and Spain. He received the alternativa in the old wodoen ring in Mexicali that was there before La Calafia and utlimately burned down. The ceremony took place in 1953 with Pepe Dominguin and Humberto Moro bestowing the honors.

The ritual was confirmed in Mexico City  at  the hands of Calesero.

The next season saw him tour Spain, confirming his alternativa in Madrid at the hands of Antonio Vazquez and Mario Carrion.

In 1961, Carvajal was prominently featured in  Ann Miller's difinitive bullfighting book at the time, Matadors Of Mexico. He was also noted in the works of Cossio.

During the 1960s, Carvajal slowed down considerably due to the gorings,   the deterioration of his health and a series of injuries to his hands which further hampered him with  the kill. He eventually retired from the ring, but lived long afterward and finally passed away in 1995.

During his long career, Carvajal offered many respectable showings when he returned to Plaza Mexico. He also had continual success in the Mexican border bullrings. Tijuana, Nogales and Juarez were three of the cities where he held great cartel.

Cristian Valencia

Cristian Valencia comes form a family of Venezuelan toreros and in his own right  made waves as a novillero. On the rise and gaining an international reputation for himself, he has proven to be complete in all phases of the bullfight.

Not only has Valencia found success in his native Venezuela, but has also triumphed in Ecuador. A trip to Spain also saw him gaining success with special note in regard to a triumphant novillada in Algeciras..

Valencia remains especially talented with the banderillas. he has gained such a reputation for placing the sticks that in rings where he chooses to leave the handling of the barbs to his banderilleros, protests grow until he is forced to take the sticks himself in his usual form.

He has developed a reputation for the el quiebro method of placing the sticks, where he allows the bull to come to him rather than running toward it and the placing of the cortos, breaking down the shafts to make the danger paramount.

Keep an eye on Cristian Valencia, as he is a rising star.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

La Esperanza

The Plaza De Toros La Esperanza in Chihuahua, Chihuahua Mexico saw inauguration in 1965 and has remained a hot spot for bullfighting in the nrothern part of Mexico for decades. Aside of corridas and novilladas, the bullring has held concerts, wrestling, boxing and other events.

Sadly, int he past two years or so, corridas have been few, but hopefully this will change and once again La Esperanza will see loads of action.

Over the years one of the all-time favorites in this ring was Raul Contreras "Finito" and this stood to reason as Chihuahua was his home town. A valiente known for more nerve than grace, he was nonetheless a top draw in this bullring, where he appeared numerous times. Finito was especially known for his skill at the supreme moment and seldom required more than one entry with the steel to finish his work.

This came to an end in 1974, when Finito died following a car crash.

Others excelled in La Esperanza as well, including Manolo Martinez, who proved before crowds here that his reputation was deserved.

Eloy Cavazos also showed his mastery with the muleta and the sword on varied occasions.

One of the underdogs who also turned in outstanding afternoons in Chihuahua was the diminutive Ernesto San Roman "El Queretano who proved himself the mighty mite of Mexican toreo. Exciting the aficioandos with his faroles de rodillas and insane capote passes set the stage with him, to do great banderillas work, equally reckless faenas and usually, quick kills.

Curro Rivera turned in one of his legendary faena in a corrida alongside Manuel Capetillo hijo and Benjamin Morales.  On this day he cut ears and tail, while Capetillo was applauded and Morales was gored.

Rejoenadores have also been popular here, ranging from the lesser known Jose Luis Rodriguez "Praga" to Pablo Hemroso De Mendoza, the maximum figura form horseback.

The ill-fated Minuto also left a great impression on the Chihuahua public prior to his untimely death from kidney cancer when he was still in his 20s.

In the 2000s, Oscar San Roman, the nephew of  Queretano, was one of the favorites in  this ring.

Rafael Ortega

A fiery matador de toros, Rafael Ortega was born in Apizago in 1970. He took the alternativa in Puebla in 1991 at the hands of Manolo Arruza and David Silveti. This was confirmed in Mexico City in 1993 via Geno and Pepe Luis Herros, then finally in Madrid in 2001 with Leonardo Benitez and Ruiz Manuel.

A complete torero, though sometimes criticized by the purists for overdoing the kneeling passes and adornos, he has nonetheless captivated the Mexican aficion. He is skilled with the capote, especially showy with the banderillas, capable with the muleta and more often han not a good killer.

Though he has done well in plazas large and small, one of his greatest showings would arguably have been in his lone appearance in the Nogales bullring, on the Mexican border, where in 1995, he registered the maximum of triumphs. In a spectacular corrida he and Leonardo Benitez cut ears from all four animals. This was considered to be one of the single greatest corridas in the history of this ring. Both matatdores excelled with banderillas, muleta and sword, creating spectacular faena after spectacular faena.

On the border, Ortega became a regular in Tijuana and Juarez, where he gained spectacular cartel in the 2000s.

Again arguably one of his best Tijuana showings came while alternating with Pablo Hermoso De Mendoza and Zapata. Though he cut no awards due to problems with hes word, the faena to his second bull of the afternoon was sine of his best. had he not missed with the steel he would have surely gained a tail (which Mendoza did cut, while Zapata won two ears)

Willing, dashing and complex as a torero, Rafael Ortega has made a name for himself in his native land as well as other parts of the world. Other Mexican rings over the years where he has triumphed in one degree or another include Morelia (where he won the Golden Sword trophy n a competitive corrida), Motul, Villa Alvarez, Aguascalientes, Puebla, Leon, Guadalajara, Monterrey and San Luis Potosi, just to name a few.

Pepe Luis Vargas

Pepe Luis Vargas was one of Spain's most beloved of toreros during his time. Born in 1959, he showed great promise as a novillero and exceptional skill with the capote,  which endeared him with the aficion. His specialty was to receive the bull kneeling puerta gayola for a unspectacular larga cambianda pass, but more on that later.

Vargas took the alternativa in 1979 at the hands of Curro Romero and Manili, following impressive actions in Madrid, Sevilla and other less important plazas during his time as the aforentoed promising novillero,.

He continued to appear for many years to follow, in bullrings large and small. In 1981, he traveled to Mexico and was a hit there as well.

It was in Sevilla, however, that he came closer to dying than arguably any other man. As he knelt on the sand for his famed kneeling pass with the capote, the bull veered into him and delivered a massive goring in the groin that hit the femoral artery. As he rolled over and attempted to rise, blood shot out of the wound like water from a fountain, indicating in no uncertain terms how badly he had been injured.

Had it not been for the skill of the doctors in charge, Vargas surely would have found himself among those on the black chronicle of deceased toreros.

As it was, Vargas made a successive return to both the bulls and to Sevilla, with the public sympathy behind him. The whole ordeal was accounted for in a book released in Spain dealing with the goring and recovery. A nightmarish photo of Vargas on the sand with the blood gushing out of him illustrated the cover.

He became known not only as a fine and capable matador, but one who cheated death.

The composers were impressed as well, for in the late 1980s two pasodobles in his honor came out on records. They are still heard to this day in the Spanish plazas de toros.

Vargas presently works at the ayumtameinto in Ejica.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Las Ventas

Few bullrings have captured the attention or the atmosphere of la fiestas more than Madrid's massive brick bullring, Las Ventas. An architectural masterpiece, it also includes several statues on the exterior and a fine bullfightign museum within.

The Spaniards who have been  triumphal there are many. Cordobes, Lalanda, Manolete, Dominguin, Antonio Bienvenida, Curro Romero, Nino de la Capea, Galan, Manzanares, Litri, Pepe Luis Vazquez, Camino, Ordonez, Viti, Antonete, Manolo Vazquez, Chamaco, Morante, Juli, Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Pedres, Ortega Cano....We could go on and on.

Ditto for foreigners from Portugal, France, South America, Mexico and other lands as well. Richard Milian, Manolo Dos Santos, Curro Rivera, Castella, the Girons, Rincon, Carlos Arruza,....

Likewise, there have been disappointments, like the much hyped confirmation of the alternativa of Manolo Martinez from Mexico, who proved a bitter disappointment in this ring. The same holds true for the Madrid presentation of the American, John Fulton, who bombed on the sand here. 

There have been the fatalities. Marquez, Coli and Campeno to name a few, Then there were the young hopefuls, Casarrubios and Eduardo Liceaga, who did well in their Madrid presentations, but were killed elsewhere before taking the alternativa, the former via a goring in San Sebastian De Los Reyes as he placed the sword and the latter in San Roque, when caught in a badly-timed molinete.

There have been many nonfatal gorings that came close as well,. Perea, Raul Galindo, Antonio Rojas, Paco Pallares, Simon, Julio Aparicio hijo....

A virtual who is who in bullfighting has been seen in Las Ventas, as well as so many others who left without  pain or glory.

Fandi, Fundi, Rafael Ortega, Rafael de la Vina, Fernando Dos Santos, Raul Garcia, Rafaelillo, Gitanillo, David Silveti, Vicente Montes, Mariano Ramos, Pepe Mata, Luis Segura, Rafael de la Vina, Soro, Julian Maestro, Sandin, Curro Camacho, Avelino de la Fuente, Adrian Romero, Mario Cabre, Arturo Ruiz Loredo, Queretano, Bernado, Ruiz Miguel, Morenito De Talavera, Ojeda, Puno, Manuel Capetillo, Joseito Huerta, Alfredo Leal, Encabo, Corpas, the Esplas, Andres Vazquez, Teruel, Miguelin, Manolo Arruza, Ostos, Chibanga, Rafi Camino,  the Peraltas, Zoio, Paco Aguilar, Javi, Calerito, Martorell, Paquiri, Rivera Ordonez, Estudiante, Diego Puerta, Fermin Murillo, Rafael Llorente, Andaluz, Roberto Dominguez, Jose Fuentes, Curro Vazquez, Raul Zorita, Raul Aranda, Jerezano, Inclusero, Manolo Moreno, Mariano Lopez, Rovira, Vito, Gaston Santos, Moura, Luis Miguel Arranz, Damaso Gonzalez, Galloso, Espartaco, Marcelino Librero, Salvador Farelo, Santiago Lopez, Munoz, Pepe Caceres, Mesquita, Damaso Gomez, Sanchez Bejarano, Parrita, Cid,  Califa, Jesulin, Ponce, Jose :Joselito" Arroyo, Vitor Mendes,  Manolo Gonzalez, Manuel Caballero, Celso Ortega, Manolo Cortes, Juan Cuellar, Pedro Castillo, Carlos Corbacho, Abellan, Vicente Barrera, Pablo Lozano,Victor Puerto,,,again we could go on forever. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Some tell stories of glory. Some tell tales of woe.

The embodiment of Blood & Sand!

Triumphs and tragedies, life and death, success and failure. Madrid's Las Ventas has seen it all. ,

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lazaro Mayoral

I first saw Lazaro Mayoral in 1989 when in Spain, training at the Vidrie ranch and then in a novillada sin picadores  in Guadalajara (There is a Guadalajara in Spain as well as Mexico).

In this novillada, he excelled with a capote and the banderillas, with the notable placement of a pair of cortos. He also gave an inspired faena and cut an ear.

He spent varied years as a novillero and  put together a number of triumphs, but like many in an i overcrowded profession, did not find the backing to become the figura it was hoped he would be, though he remained a fine journeying torero.

Mayoral eventually left the trade as a novillero to become a notable banderillero.

He presently makes his home in Pinto, south of Madrid.