The dream of being a bullfighter


The long and hard way to wear the lights suit

Can you imagine the face of a mother who suddenly hears “Mom, I want to be a bullfighter”? It would probably freeze her blood. A son who wishes to dedicate his life to a profession in which he may literally die every day, with such a low probability of success and in an environment as weird as today, dehumanized and living with its back to death. It is probably the last one thing any parent would choose.

Fortunately for us, there are still children who dream of being bullfighters, dressing in lights (the sequin suit bullfighters wear) and triumphing. In families with bullfighting history it may be easier to understand; in addition the child will have a better chance of breaking through initially. But the poison of the bull world can seize anyone and, sometimes, attending a simple bullfights or even watch it on television, it may be enough for a child to pronounce that dreaded phrase.

Bullfighting is a very striking world and surrounded by a halo of mystery, very attractive. However, it is one of the most risky and frustrating professions there can be, where only a handful will succeed, a tiny part of the applicants. To the incontestable value necessary must be added the sacrifice, physical effort, perseverance, the ability to overcome, luck!…and even have the necessary means.

The times of ‘maletillas’ (youth who wanted to be bullfighters and had no help) traveling the roads with their little stuff on their backs, in search of an opportunity at the fighting. Bull ranches where they could their worth. Now, with the approval of their parents, small dreamers can start in Bullfighting Schools.


Illustration by Josmilltey, ‘Maletillas’ at Almonaster (Huelva).

The first Bullfighting School

Maybe it could not be anywhere else, but the first official school for young bullfighters that is recorded was the Royal Bullfighting School of Seville. It was created under the protection of  King Fernando VII, by Royal Order of May 28, 1830, who commissioned the task to Don Antolín Cuéllar de Beladiez, Count de la Estrella.

It was located next to the San Bernardo Slaughterhouse and its activity extended until 1834. His first teacher was the famous bullfighter from Ronda, Pedro Romero, accompanied by Jerónimo José Cándido and Antonio Ruiz ‘El Sombrerero’.

The bullfighters Francisco Montes ‘Paquiro’, Juan Pastor ‘El Barbero’, Francisco Arjona ‘Cúchares’, Manuel Domínguez ‘Desperdicios’ or Antonio Mariscal were some of his mythical students.

Bullfighting School of Seville.

Illustration of the magazine La Lidia, June 6, 1887. Bullfighting School of Seville.

Bullfighting Schools today

Today’s Bullfighting Schools spread from the second half of the 20th century. Some sources place Carmona (Seville) as the first, created in 1963 by an old bullfighter, Manuel Martínez. Morante de la Puebla and Finito de Córdoba fought their first calves here.

Spain has more than 50 schools throughout the geography, with a large part in Andalusia where we find the one in Seville or the one in Córdoba. The Bullfighting School of Madrid, that of Salamanca, that of Albacete or the resistance of Catalonia, whose main benefactor is the bullfighter José Tomás, are some of the best examples.


José Cubero bullfighting school

Students of José Cubero Yiyo Bullfighting School of Madrid in Las Ventas with the bullfighter Fortes.

In any case, this is only the first step. These are places where young applicants have the possibility to learn technique, history, meet and know everything about the bull, training…but also grow with values ​​and an education increasingly difficult to find in today’s society.

The minimum age to participate in bullfights with calves in our country is 14 years and to debut in lights suit are 16. The schools will accompany their students in this long and sacrificed process, putting at their disposal everything you need to prepare: facilities, capes and swords, practical lessons, steers in the field, etc. Until the day they debut with horses and must continue on their own path.


The bullfights today

The current situation of the bullfighter quarry is quite daunting. The number of steer-bullfights has dropped considerably, largely due to its high cost. But also due to the inaction of some sectors, which seem not to realize that young bullfighters are the future of the Fiesta and it is essential to give them the possibility to prepare and promote.

There should be no bullfighting fair without steer-bullfights but this, today, is increasingly complicated.


Happy week, bullfighting lovers!

Miren Iruña

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.