September 13, 2002

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

El Calesero Dies in Mexico

The legendary “poet of the cape,” Alfonso Ramirez “El Calesero,” died, last Sunday, in Mexico City, at 88 years of age. The matador, who was once gored seven times by one bull, and whose story was published in Reader’s Digest as “Mexico’s Mild Mannered Matador,” was born in Aguascalientes on Aug. 11, 1916.

He made his professional debut, April 23, 1933 and attracted immediate acclaim for his great cape work, his style in placing banderillas, and his soft interpretation in the third act. On Dec. 24, 1939, he received his alternativa from Lorenzo Garza, with David Liceaga as the witness. The bull of his doctorate was “Perdiguero,” of San Mateo. Both Garza and Liceaga are deceased. Calesero confirmed his alternativa in Las Ventas de Madrid on May 30, 1946.

On Christmas Day of 1950, the bull “Trianero,” of Mimiahuapan, gored Calesero seven times. The matador spent many days, teetering between life and death.

In 1967, he began a series of retirement performances that lasted nearly two years.

Alfonso Ramirez “El Calesero”. Que en paz descanse!

*****

A couple of recent events must be driving animal rightists crazy. On Sept. 2, in the small Portuguese town of Barrancos —a few kilometers from the frontier city of Extremadura—a bullfight to the death was held for the first time in 74 years.

In 1928, Portugal prohibited the killing of bulls in that country’s plazas de toros. But, the town of Barrancos continued to present authentic corridas de toros, challenging the law and claiming that bullfights to the death are part of the city’s tradition.

Parliament legalized such bullfights, this past July, despite protests from animal rights supporters, including former actress Brigette Bardot. Anti-bullfight groups protested the Barrancos corridas with demonstrations in front of Portuguese embassies in 21 cites in Europe and North America. Fifteen protesters gathered at the embassy in Madrid for a half-hour demonstration.

In the meantime, a French court, Sept. 2, dismissed legal efforts by animal rightists campaigners to stop the first bullfight in the southwestern city of Carcassone in nearly 50 years. The groups complained that bullfighting could no longer be considered a tradition in the walled city, because no bulls had been killed there since 1954. The court, operating on the premise that bullfights are allowed only in towns or cities that can show proof of an “uninterrupted local bullfighting tradition.” The court cited 11 bullfighting clubs in the Aude region, with some 600 members in Carcassonne, and a bloodless bullfight, last year, that attracted thousands of spectators.

In spite of the legal wrangling, festivities surround the Carcassonne corrida included street parties, music, dancing, and an equestrian show.

*****

TORO TOPICS:

Eloy Cavazos heads this coming Sunday’s corrida in Plaza Monumental de Tijuana. He will alternate with Miguelito Espinosa “Armillita Chico” an Paco González, facing bulls of Reyes Huerta.

*****

Although it isn’t yet official, there is word that rejoneador Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza will perform, Saturday, Oct. 12, in Plaza Calafia of Mexicali.

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