Julian López “El Juli” will retire of Las Ventas on 30 September, in the first bullfight of Autumn Fair. The bullfighter from Madrid says goodbye to Madrid 24 hours before what is supposed to be his definitive retirement from bullfighting, on October 1st at the Real Maestranza of Seville.
His career only has one “Puerta Grande” in the capital’s monumental, far from other colleagues of his generation such as Castella, Perera or Talavante, but El Juli has five faenas that define his bullfighting. Why only the one in San Isidro 2007 merited his exit on shoulders? Because the measure with which the box and the fans gave their opinion about the bullfighter performance in the ring was too rigorous.
El Juli had already cut two ears to an Alcurrucén bull on the afternoon of his debut as novillero in Madrid, a sold-out event, just a few days before becoming a bullfighter in Nîmes. The year was 1998. Five years passed before Julián, who had already cut some ears at Las Ventas, immortalised his first great performance in this bullring.
It was in the Press Bullfight of 2003, in which he fought alone in front of bulls of different breeds. He put on “banderillas”, applied a great bullfighting technique and with the few options offered by the bullfight, he performed impeccably, above the circumstances… until the fifth Fuente Ymbro bull came out.
This bull, the bull of the afternoon, El Juli fought with his left hand in a series of very powerful series. He was broken, dedicated, rebellious against the circumstances and the elements. Because after José Tomás’s farewell and with Joselito and Ponce without news, Julián was left alone at the top of the bullfighters ranking, many doubted him, and El Juli showed that he had great character to withstand the pressure.
His encounter with “Novelero” and “Cantapájaros”.
Three San Isidro fairs later, destiny brought him together with “Novelero”, a bull from Ana María Bohórquez to which he imposed a bullfight of great command, submission and dominance. It was a measured, almost perfect performance, with a very low hand, and he governed the bull in the same way that he governed the bullfighting.
Two ears were requested but the president only granted one, as happened the following year with “Cantapájaros”, a Victoriano del Río bulls to which El Juli gave his most memorable bullfight in Madrid, and possibly the most important of all those performed at Las Ventas.
On 23 May 2007, El Juli fought in Madrid as he had always dreamed of fighting in Las Ventas. It was a great performance, especially with his left hand, a more natural bullfighting. The president again made a mistake by denying him the second ear, and El Juli had to walk around the ring twice. He would then cut the ear of the fifth to finally get that much-appreciated “Puerta Grande” which he had not yet achieved in his career.
From that day, Madrid began to look at El Juli with different eyes. The bullfighter began to savour every performance and after cutting some ears and several outstanding performances, came the fair of 2018, where he fought “Licenciado”, a great bull of Alcurrucén which he subdued with his art of bullfighting, which was already recognized and accepted by everyone in this business, critics, public and professionals. With the fans in the bullring cheering for him, it was the sword that prevented El Juli from leaving Las Ventas on the shoulders again. He only managed to cut one ear, but everyone considered it the most complete performance of the fair.
His last great afternoon in Madrid was at the San Isidro Fair in 2022. El Juli did a good job with the bulls of La Quinta because of his ability and the way he imposed himself on the bulls of the Martínez Conradi family. He cut an ear to the first, but his great performance came with the fifth, an uncertain bull which he understood in an amazing way. The fans in Madrid cheered him again. But, once again, the sword got in the way.
Madrid awaits him and feels that he is theirs and, after those years of so many demands, they now adore him. And they are preparing to give him a great farewell as he deserves.