April 11, 2008

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Robert Clayton Buick, The Bank Robbing Bullfighter

In the era of the 60s, Robert Clayton Buick might have been called daring, perhaps even dashing. Born in Pennsylvania, the diminutive, stuttering, always ready for a fight Buick spent much of his life in Mexico.

He became a novillero, spending money like it grew on trees, and according to him, fought five or six times a week, sometimes as many as 10 to 20 bulls a day! That which nobody suspected was that he was also a bank robber. In 1966, he was named to the FBI’s Most Wanted list and accused of robbing numerous federally insured savings and loans, some of them, twice.

The following is from an official FBI description:

“Said to be a personal ‘playboy’ type extrovert who likes attention and the opportunity to boast of his past bullfighting activity, Buick reportedly drinks expensive wines and liquors, frequents good restaurants, nightclubs, and beach resorts and likes swimming, boating, dancing, television, and jazz music. He is known to dress neatly and conservatively, to travel by air and private automobile, usually exceeding the speed limit, and to wear a diamond ring, a gold identification wrist bracelet and a gold religious neck medal. Buick reportedly smokes cigarettes, is especially fond of Italian and Mexican food, and is fairly fluent in the Spanish language”.

Buick was nearly captured in February of 1966, when a retired police officer, unaware that Buick had just robbed a bank, but suspicious of his reckless driving habits, pursued him several miles, before overtaking him. When the former officer attempted to detain Buick, he was bitten, hard, on the hand.

This reporter recently made telephone contact with Buick, who wouldn’t divulge his address. He did admit to having bitten the retired cop.

“Yeah, I bit him. I figured it was better than shooting him,” he told me.

In subsequent communications, I concluded that Buick is paranoiac and egomaniacal. He may also be a genius. He’s a fine writer and has read the works of many of history’s greatest authors. He’s also a very dangerous fellow with whom I would not want to cross estoques.

His personal hero is the late actor, Steve McQueen, but there’s also plenty of Joe Pesci floating around in his psyche.

He insists that he didn’t rob banks for the money or to finance his bullfighting career, but to focus attention on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His somewhat convoluted tale is told in his self-published book, “Tiger in the Rain”. Readers who can overlook the book’s myriad spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors will discover that it is divided into four distinct parts: Buick’s bullfighting; his subsequent arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration; his time in prison; and his parole and entry into the world of horse racing as a race horse owner and rancher, something that requires plenty of parné. But, he did have some industrial strength mafia contacts, which may offer a clue to his affluence and success.

A couple of things are to be questioned. First, considering the reality that he was convicted of robbing 22 banks, for which he could have been sentenced to 75 years in prison, but in actuality was sentenced to only 25 years, was paroled in five years, and seemed to be loaded with money.

Second, none of the American or Mexican toreros that I was able to contact and with whom Buick claims to have hobnobbed, has anything positive to say about Buick’s bullfighting acumen. Some say that he purchased all of his opportunities. Nevertheless, he did face bulls in the arena. That is something that cannot be denied.

But, he has accomplished his goal of exposing the truth about the murders of both Kennedys, effectively demonstrating the innocence of both Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan. And, perhaps that really was—as he claims—his goal, all along.

And another thing is certain. Robert Clayton Buick is a fascinating fellow, one who I would like to know better, but not well. Although he was never charged with physically harming anybody, he scares the living hell out of me.

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