Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twelve-Year Old Matador Injured in Debut in Mexico City

Miguel "Michelito" Lagravere, fighting novice-class bulls (below 1100 lbs) in his debut as a matador in Mexico City, succeeded in killing his first bull, but got tossed by his second bull, a 900 lb. beast, and didn't finish the fight. His father is a Spanish matador, Michel Lagravere. Michelito will fight bulls again on June 20 in Montul, Yucatan, an important ring in Mexico.

The bullring in Cd. Juarez was blown up a few years ago to make room for a Walmart so you can't see them there anymore. Progress? I wrote an article on bullfighting in Mexico for an encyclopedia of Mexican Culture a few years ago and got to know something about the bullfighting scene in Juarez at that time. The owner of the bullring also owned the bullring in Tijuana, and I hung out a couple of times at the only bullfight restaurant in Juarez, a place on Constitucion known as El Tragadero (The Trough) where the owner was a true expert on bullfighting.

Twelve years old is exceptionally young for a matador, especially to debut in the biggest bullring in the world, in one of the biggest cities in the world. Guts? You bet!

In 1999 I saw an outstanding bullfight in Juarez by "El Juli," Julián López Escobar, from Madrid, when he was 16 years old. He had his bullfighting debut in Taxcoco, Mexico, at the age of 14 because in Spain professional bullfighting is not allowed until the age of 16. He was fearless, and lightning fast, and he would commit himself to a pass, including his calculation of the closest allowable distance between his body and the horns, a full second earlier than any matador I had ever seen. His style reminded me of those ice-skating champions who pause almost imperceptibly to gather themselves up a split second before a jump and a split second after, providing a kind of visual and temporal parenthesis in the flow of motion, while inside the parenthesis incredibly precise, sculptural movements occur at lightning speed. At one point El Juli was the highest paid matador in the history of bullfighting and he is still one of the top matadors in the world today.

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