November 10, 2000
Amateur toreros from throughout the world converged on Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Oct. 28-29, to celebrate the first convention of the Asociación Internacional de Aficionados Taurinos. The weekend event was termed by Asociación President Eddie Cohn as "The first of an annual event in which bullfight fans and amateur toreros can come together to share their mutual interest in, and love of the bullfight world."
The convention was kicked off on Saturday with a tienta, to determine which cows would be used for breeding. The amateurs took turns giving cape and muleta passes to the spirited, young animals. All three of the vacas were selected for future breeding with the ranch's seed bulls.
That evening, the convention was hosted by former novillero Charles Nixon, at his El Matador Lounge, in McAllen. Nixon provided food and an open bar for the entire Asociación membership.
Then, on Sunday, the convention really got serious, with a formal festival, featuring exhibitions by retired matadors and competition among the aficionados practicos, facing young bulls, weighing from 290-370 kilos, from the ranch of Don Rafael Mendoza.
The afternoon was inaugurated by an exhibition by retired Matador Pepe Luis Vásquez, who is considered the finest swordsman in Mexican bullfight history. The 82-year-old torero did a fine job with cape and muleta, terminated the performance with a single sword thrust, and was warmly applauded by the several hundred spectators, mostly Winter Texans, who were in the stands.
Next came Vásquez' student, retired Matador David Renk, of McAllen, who, in spite of receiving a violent tumble, performed exceptionally well, killed well, and was awarded the convention's first ear. Nobody realized that, the day before, Renk had broken his right foot.
Bruce Hutton, of San Diego, California, then shared his young bull with Tijuana-born Matadora Raquel Martinez, who resides in Mexico City. Both turned in some outstanding work, with Bruce Hutton placing an excellent sword that dropped the bull within seconds.
Next on the bill was Jim Verner, who traveled from London, in order to participate in the convention competition. Verner worked exceptionally well with cape and muleta, to a difficult novillo, killed well, and was awarded an ear.
David Moss, a former novillero and current Hollywood talent agent, then performed with the convention's largest bull. And, although he suffered a violent tossing and trampling, he was able to turn in a credible performance for which he was applauded. Had he not encountered difficulties with the sword, he most certainly would have won an ear.
Mario Orlando, of Los Angeles, faced the last bull of the evening and impressed the crowd with a performance that won him an ear. He was especially good in the third act, linking his passes well and climaxing each set with appropriate adornments.
Later, in the Tupinamba Restaurant, in Reynosa, more than 100 guests, including former novillera, current TV actress Bette Ford, turned out for the awards banquet.
Bruce Hutton won the trophy for placing the best sword, while David Moss was feted for giving the best cape lances. The trophy for the best faena went to Mario Orlando, while the big trophy of the affair, that of Gran Triunfador, was awarded to Jim Verner.
During the banquet, Asociación President Eddie Cohn and Vice President Fred Renk (father of Matador David Renk) spoke of the success of the affair and promised an even bigger convention in 2001.
They emphasized that the Asociación is not a club, per se, but an organization whose entire emphasis is focused on toreo.
All in all, the first convention of the newly-formed organization was considered a great success.
On a cold and windy day, last Sunday, a festival was celebrated in Juárez. The six matadores faced novillos of Javier Garfias. The first and fifth were good, but the rest were very bad.
Curro Rivera cut one year; Mariano Ramos, looking out of shape, was afforded silence; Guillermo Capetillo took a vuelta; Armillita Chico was, likewise, limited to silence; Manolo Capetillo turned in the best performance, cutting two ears; and Pepe López Hurtado was applauded.
A great afternoon was celebrated, last Sunday, in Plaza Monumental de Monterrey. A capacity crowd was on hand to see Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Eloy Cavazos, and Jorge Gutierrez confront a herd from Fernando de La Mora.
Hermoso de Mendoza was awarded three ears, while Eloy cut two, and Gutierrez was limited to one.
But, it wasn't such a great day in Mexico City. It was the first Mexican appearance of El Zotoluco since his triumphant summer in Spain. But, it was a case of willing toreros and not-so-willing toros of Xajay.
Mexican Rejoneador Rodrigo Santos opened the afternoon with a bull from Rancho Seco. He and his horses performed well, but, after missing the first rejon of death, the rejoneador was awarded only a vuelta. There were no ears cut by Jorge Gutierrez or Eloy Cavazos, while the Spaniard, Manuel Caballero received terrible bulls and was limited to applause.