November 21, 2003

Bullfight World
By Lynn Sherwood

Requiem For David Silveti

When a new Mexican dictionary is published, it should list as the definition of pundonor only two words: David Silveti.

For David was a truly honorable person, both as a torero and as a man.

This past Nov. 12, at his ranch in Salamanca, Guanajuato, David told his father, Juan, and his mother, Dorin, that he was going to take a nap. He went to a bedroom, where Juan kept a gun. He placed the gun against his right temple and pulled the trigger.

David Silveti, who the Mexican afición had dubbed “King David,” was dead. He was born, Oct. 3, 1955, in Mexico City. The son of a matador, the grandson of a matador, and years later, the brother of matador, David was part of a taurine dynasty. But, he was the special one, the chosen one, a man whose talents  and humility were so profound, I have frequently seen him torear with tears running down his cheeks. He loved to torear. He received his alternativa in Irapuato, in 1977, from the hands of Curro Rivera. He confirmed his doctorate in 1979, in La Plaza Mexico, with Manolo Martinez as his sponsor.  In 1987, in Las Ventas de Madrid, he made his Spanish confirmation. It was ironic that his sponsor, that afternoon, was Nimeño II, who would, years later, break his neck when tossed by a bull, and ended his own life, by hanging.

But, as fine a torero as he was—the best Mexican torero that this reporter has ever seen—it seems that his life was cursed. He suffered severe injuries to his knees, endured countless surgeries, and performed several years with braces on his legs. Eventually, due to his lack of mobility, he was forced to retire from the rings.

Last year, I spoke with David, by telephone, and he told me that he was preparing his comeback, that his knees had healed and that he would no longer be wearing the braces. And, return, he did, with gusto, recording triumphs throughout the Aztec nation.

But, in one of his corridas, he was caught and tossed, landing on his head, just as had Nimeño. Thereafter, he began suffering blackouts. He lost his ability to concentrate. He was diagnosed as bipolar. He suffered intense headaches. He had an aneurysm that was inoperable.

His doctors told him that his life as a torero was finished, that even a golpe to the head might prove fatal.

At first, David accepted the reality, although he went into a state of deep depression. He would never again face a bull. He would never again cause aficionados to weep as they watched him invest such magnificent artistry, courage, and pundonor. He never cheated. He never coasted. But, in one of his last corridas, he had such a bad afternoon, he told his father, “If I ever torear that badly, again, I will shoot myself.”

And, he did.

There are those who consider suicide to be an act of cowardice. But, they are those who don’t understand the seriousness of depression, the impact that it can have on the body, the desire to just end it all. Although he left behind a loving family, nobody could ever call David Silveti a coward.

He just couldn’t take it, anymore. He left a note, saying, “Living like this is not life.”

Aficionado and amateur torero Jim Verner, wrote of David’s death, “Torear es algo peligroso, bello, y difícil.  La única cosa tan peligrosa que torear es la guerra; la única cosa más bella que torear es el amor de una mujer; y la única cosa más difícil que torear es no torear.”

And, the fine Mexico City aficionado, Juan Carlos Jolly, wrote a poem, comparing David’s death to that of Juan Belmonte, who had, likewise, shot himself in the head. As Verner’s quote, I leave it in Spanish, for it loses too much in translation to English:

Una mañana en el campo
Como Belmonte
En una hacienda
Como Belmonte
Razones muy poderosas
Como Belmonte
Esta vida ya no es vida
Como Belmonte
Los demonios lo han vencido
Como Belmonte
Se despide de los suyos
Como Belmonte
Un disparo acaba con todo
Como Belmonte
Lo encuentra Juanito,
Como Belmonte
El hijo de uno, el padre de otro
Como Belmonte
Los dos con el mismo nombre
Como Belmonte
Los dos, toreros
Como Belmonte
Nos enseñaste la tragedia del toreo
Como Belmonte
De tu toreo trágico, apasionado
Como Belmonte
De tu entrega y tu passion
Como Belmonte

Descanse en paz, Rey David

Como Belmonte
Que te lo mereces
Como Belmonte

Alas, poor David Silveti. I knew him. Q.E.P.D.!

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