January 28, 2000
by Lyn Sherwood
At 62 years of age, Manuel Benitez
"El Cordobés" is returning to the rings of Spain.
The hairful wonder has signed to perform in 10 corridas, in suit
of lights, beginning April 16, in Jaén. He is also signed
to appear in Sanlúcar, Alegeciras, Antequera, and possibly,
Córdoba. He will appear with other matadores of his Geritol
generation, Antoñete and Curro Romero.
El Cordobés attempted a comeback, a decade or so ago, but it was a short-lived one. Performing in Albacete, an espontáneo, Fernando Elez Villarroel, jumped into the ring. As being an espontáneo was how El Cordobés got his start, he allowed the boy to perform a few passes. Unfortunately, he was gored through the jugular and died in the arena. The public blamed Benitez.
The Mexican bullfight world is buzzing in debate over Julián López "El Juli." As you may recall, the 18-year-old phenomenon milked an undeserved indulto from a bull, last Nov. 21, in La Monumental de Tijuana. Since then, he has fired his manager, Victoriano Valencia, and has been embroiled in a variety of taurine scandals.
During his Jan. 9 appearance in La Plaza Mexico, both of his bulls were, according to observers, nothing but novillos. So, was his third animal, a gift bull. The young matador was soundly booed and filled the arena with cushions.
José Garfias, who had originally sold the two bulls to La Plaza Mexico, said that they had been intended to be used in a novillada. When he discovered that they would be presented in a full corrida, he sent a pair of replacement bulls. But, somehow, the novillos were still presented.
Most of the criticism has not been leveled directly at El Juli, but rather at his father, who has been directing the youngster's career, no matter who his apoderado may be, who at this writing is Manuel Chopera.
Alejandro Silveti has begun his retirement tour, following 11 years as a matador. The first of his despedidas was celebrated in Morelia, Jan. 15, where he alternated with El Juli, Ignacio Garibay, and Rejoneador José Maria Fuentes. In that action, with bulls of Corlomé, Silveti won a vuelta from his first bull and ears and tail from his second. Those trophies were protested by the public. El Juli earned ovation for his first lídia and cut two ears from his second. Garibay won one ear, from his second bull, while the rejoneador also won an ear.
Spanish matador-turned rejoneador Paco Ojeda has once again taken up the suit of lights. Ojeda has signed to perform as a matador in 20 corridas in Spain.
In La Plaza Mexico, Jan. 16, a crowd of only 15,000 was on hand to watch Spanish Matador Manuel Caballero alternate with Mexicans Manolo Mejía and Fernando Ochoa.
With Milenario, the fifth bull of the day, Caballero performed exceptionally well with cape and muleta. But, neither Mejía or Ochoa were able to impress, as much for the poor quality of bulls as for high winds that all three matadores faced.
And, last Sunday (Jan. 23), México Eloy Cavazos and Spain's Enrique Ponce performed in a mano-a-mano, with Cavazos emerging as the most triumphant. However, observers said that the judging strongly favored Cavazos.
The afternoon also feature Rejoneador Giovanni Aloi, who faced a bull from Rancho Seco, while the two matadores challenged a herd form Fernando de La Mora. The bulls were very well presented.
Cavazos, who has been a professional some 33 years, and is scheduled to retire, this season, won ears and tail, while Ponce, due to problems with the sword, was limited to one ear. Ponce also offered a gift bull, but was unable to register a triumph.