Some of the world’s finest amateur toreros demonstrated their taurine abilities during the annual convention of the International Association of Taurine Aficionados (IATA), held June 10th and 11th in south Texas and Mexico. It was the first time that such a function had been presented at a Mexican ganadería, and it was, by all accounts, an unqualified success.
On Saturday, sweltering heat and increasingly strong winds greeted Jim Verner, José Narcisco “Candelário”, Mario Orlando, Rafaél Cortez Montalvo, and Robert Weldon, who met a generally fine, but sometimes difficult, herd of novillos of Don Arturo G. Garcia, at the ganadero’s Rancho Fandangullo, in Dr. Coss, Mexico.
The animals, weighing in the 240-kilo range, provided a true test for all of the toreros. These were serious toritos that required not only courage, but technical knowledge, both of which were in evidence by all of the aficionados prácticos. The animals were unforgiving of errors.
Plaza Judge Eddie Cohn, the convention’s honoree, assisted by Matador David Renk, gauged the performances with honesty and integrity. Several hundred aficionados were in the stands.
The venerable Jim Verner opened the afternoon with veronicas and a media.
Following a pic, Verner offered a quite of gaoneras and a rebolera. He dedicated the animal to Eddie Cohn. Verner’s faena, entirely on the left hand side, was spiced with appropriate adornments and high passes. He killed, recibiendo, on the second intent and was granted an ear and a turn of the ring.
Mario Orlando ignited the crowd with a set of veronicas sevillanas, followed by a nice tanda of tapatías. Following the pic’ing, the Los Angeles torero drew applause and music for a set of orticinas.
After dedicating to the crowd, Mario opened with high passes, then progressed to right and left-handed muletazos and a wide variety of adorn-ments. It was a grand faena, performed artistically and intelligently. After placing a half-sword, Orlando was granted a pair of well-deserved ears. The bull was afforded a slow drag and was applauded for its bravery and nobility.
David Moss, also of Los Angeles, opened with good veronicas rodeñas. There was a certain amount of confusion in attempting to pic the bull. In the third act, the animal started out, well, but quickly changed its style to one of unpredictability and lack of a clean attack. Moss worked hard, offered a faena of high passes, and killed with a half sword, al encuentro. He was granted a well-deserved turn of the ring. By this time, the winds had reached the point of making things very difficult for all of the toreros.
Then, came José Narcisco “Candelário,” who received a difficult bull, but was able to perform a couple of good verónicas. The torero dedicated the animal to Fred Renk. Candelário began with several tandas of naturales ayudados, climaxed with well-executed chest passes. His faena didn’t offer much variety, but was exceptionally well done. But, he had troubles with the steel, finally killed with a descabello thrust, and was warmly applauded.
Rafaél Cortez Montalvo opened his lídia with the prettiest verónicas rondeñas of the afternoon to a bull that was manso and difficult, playing hit-and-run with the picador. Nevertheless, Montalvo’s faena was very good. He worked both sides with artistry and demonstrated great aguante. After missing the first sword, he killed with a half-sword and earned a pair of ears.
Robert Weldon, of New York, was performing in only his third festival. Nevertheless, he demonstrated knowledge and desire far beyond his experience, working with artistry and a degree of coolness that failed to combat the increasingly warm weather and windy conditions. In his faena, he demonstrated very good muletazos to both sides, but was especially good on the left. He encountered big problems at the supreme moment. Nevertheless, among his several attempts were a couple of full estocadas that should have done the job, but didn’t. He was warmly applauded for his courageous and honorable efforts.
The last bull of the day corresponded to Jim Verner, who opened things with a perfect, kneeling farol de rodillas, followed by nice verónicas and a great media verónica. Following the pic, Verner offered a set of chicuelinas antiguas.
The bull didn’t have much strength in the third act, but Verner got everything that was possible. The animal wasn’t good on the left, but allowed the torero to hear cheers and music for his derechazos and adornments. He missed the first sword, but then placed a letter-perfect estocada, recibiendo, and earned the pair of ears that was granted. Verner has become a genuine maestro in placing sword thrusts in the dangerous recibiendo style.
Later, during the awards banquet, held in the taurine bar, which was among the many other improvements that Don Arturo Garcia had invested in his ranch, the trophy for the grand triunfador, as well as that for the best lances and best quite, was awarded to Mario Orlando. The best sword placement trophy, naturally, went to Jim Verner. The overall best faena winner was Rafaél Cortez Montalvo; the trophy for the best muletazos was granted to Robert Weldon, while David Moss and Candelario were afforded honorable mentions for their great valor.
Fred Renk and Eddie Cohn both offered sincere thanks to Don Arturo Garcia for his hospitality and the excellence of his animals.
In all, a tremendous, albeit very warm, afternoon.