Manuel Garcia "Maera" remains a tragic figure in bullfighting and one of la fiesta's most bizarre figures. Hemingway praised him in Death In The Afternoon and Barnaby Conrad did the same in How To Fight A Bull. The odd part was Maera never originally needed to be a matador. Nor did he intend to be at first.
Maera gained fame as a banderillero for Juan Belmonte who did not place his own banderillas due to many leg gorings which kept him from running. Belmonte's two greatest rivals, Joselito and Gaona, were masters with the barbs and as such, Belmonte used Maera to counter their actions. Aficionados came to know Maera as a banderillero as much as any matador.
When Maera went to Belmonte and demanded more money, he was refused, though Belmonte was making a fortune at the time.
Maera then announced he would become a matador himself and show up his former employer.
Maera entered the ranks as a novillero and rose rapidly in the eyes of the fans. Already established as a banderillero he came to be recognized for insane bravery with the capote and muleta as well. He did, indeed take the alternativa and become a matador de toros.
Many contend Maera knew his time was short as he was suffering from tuberculosis and he knew if the bulls did not kill him, this sickness was going to. This is where the true tragedy is found. How far a healthy Maera might have gone in the bullfighting world remains anyone's guess. History will never know.
Maera eventually died from his affliction, coughing blood in bed and painfully fighting off the Grim Reaper as long as he could.
He rests within the San Fernando cemetery in Sevilla, where curiously enough the tomb of his former employer, Juan Belmonte, may also be found.