May 6, 2005

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Juli Triumps in Tijuana Opener

Julian López “El Juli” registered a clamorous triumph, last Sunday, at Jose Lopez Hurtado’s “Beautiful Bullring by the Sea, according to Bullfight World correspondent Gary Sloan. It was almost a sellout, with some 15,000 to 18,000 fans on hand for the opening corrida of the 2005 season, which featured José Maria Luevano, “El Juli”, and Israel Tellez, facing bulls from Barralva.

Luevano

The first animal, which weighed 520 kilos, was faced by senior sword Luevano. It was a magnificent toro, and José gave it his best, but the animal was just a little too much for him. Luevano gave it pretty solid faena, holding his ground with the large, well-armed beast. One sword that was slightly caida, and it was over. Applause.

His second toro, at 445 kilos, afforded Luevano a much better lídia. With capote and muleta, he delivered some fine work. The faena was very good, with nice tandas on both sides. After another caida sword, he was, again, applauded.

El Juli

With his first bull, which weighed 435 kilos, El Juli didn’t do much with the capote, and much to the displeasure of the crowd, did not place his on sticks. They apparently didn’t realize that Juli had stopped placing the sticks, two seasons ago. His faena never gained any momentum, and the crowd was surly with him. After three pinchazos and one try with the descabello, the bull died. Boos and pitos for Juli, which was obviously not acceptable to His Juliness.


JULIAN LOPEZ ‘EL JULI’ brought down the house, last Sunday, during the opening corrida of the 2005 Tijuana bullfight season. Juli won two ears from his second bull. Photo by Gary Sloan.

With his second animal, at 475 kilos, Julian decided to get serious. He showed little with the cape, at first, but a quite of stunning, crisp, and tight chicuelinas brought down the house. Nevertheless, he was again booed for not placing his own banderillas.

After the third tanda with the muleta, on the right, he looked at the now near hysterical crowd, as if to say, “ah, you like it, now, eh?” Then, he rubbed their faces with his enormous talent. He did it all. Pases de redondo, dosantinas, and great series on the right and the left. The sword was placed well, but the bull would not fall, so Juli dispatched it with a well placed descabello. Huge ovation, and a well earned two ears.

(However, Lyn Sherwood’s daughter, Heather, reported that the performance was worth only one ear. What can I say? She’s her daddy’s kid.)

Israel Tellez earned a vuelta for his first animal, and nothing for his second. Watching him was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Disaster was always just an eye blink away. Fortunately, nothing happened, but he was scary to watch.

The day belonged to Juli, and it was a great opening presentation. The next scheduled Tijuana corrida will be May 29th, Memorial Day weekend. The cartel will be Eloy Cavazos, Manolo Arruza, and Alejandro Amaya. Toros to be announced.

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Jorge Gutiérrez registered a grand triumph, April 23, during the final afternoon of the Feria de San Marcos, in Aguasca-lientes, winning ears and tail from a bull of the Santa Barbara ranch.  On the same afternoon, Eloy Cavazos won four ears, as did Alejandro Amaya. Rejoneador Gastón Santos was applauded.

The following afternoon belonged to Eulalio López “El Zotoluco”, who won four ears and a tail. Rejoneador Sergio Vegas opened the afternoon and won a turn of the ring, while Miguel Espinosa Arm-illita earned an ear.

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The bullfight season in Spain is running into huge problems. First, former Beatle Paul McCartney and the Dalai Lama are among a half million animal rights activists who signed a petition to stop bullfighting on the Iberian Peninsula.

But, such is a common protest for the extremist members of PETA. A far more serious problem involves a bovine disease that may throw bullfighting into the deepest crisis in its history. Blue Tongue disease has affected an estimated 60% of the Spanish ranches that raise fighting bulls, especially those in southern Spain.

The Madrid government has placed restrictions on transporting animals from the ranches to plazas de toros, throughout the nation. The situation, according to Jaime Sebastián de Erice, secretary general of the Union of Breeders of Fighting Bulls, may result in a great percentage of bullfights being cancelled.

Bulls are rarely affected by Blue Tongue, a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes, but which does not affect humans. However, bulls are carriers of the virus that causes it. Government officials fear that allowing bulls to be transported may spread the disease to vulnerable animals, such as sheep. Spain has nearly 25 million sheep and about six million cattle.

Bullfights are permitted, as long as certain safety guidelines are followed. But, industry officials report that the procedures are so expensive that most bullfight empresarios will not be able to afford them.

“The current measures would create the gravest crisis we have ever known,” said Enrique Garza Grau, secretary general of the National Association of Organizers of Bullfighting Spectacles. “If they are not modified, we won’t be able to carry out even fifty percent of the events that are scheduled.” Despite modest, but growing, protests from animal rights groups, bullfighting remains a powerful draw, throughout the world. In Spain, it is second only to soccer as a spectator attraction. Spaniards spend more than a billion dollars a year to watch an estimated 17,000 bullfights, it was reported. (That figure sounds a bit exaggerated.) Matadors charge from $25,000 to $120,000, each, for an after-noon’s work, while bulls of brave blood cost from $25,000 to $100,000, each, according to official (although again exaggerated) estimates.

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