La prensa

Excellent toreo produces no awards in 2nd Tijuana Corrida

Author: Mark Schwarz
Created: 01 August, 2014
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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5 min read

Spanish matador, Vicente Bejarano.
Spanish matador, Vicente Bejarano.

Tijuana, B.C. Mexico – One bull of San Pablo, for rejoneador Rodrigo Santos, good, and 6 bulls of Campo Hermoso, well presented; Generally good, 6th “Lobito”, and 7th, “Valeroso”, excellent, weights: 979; 1,034; 1,034; 1,023; 1,023, 1,056 lbs.

This is the age of Big Data, and the world of the corrida is no exception to its power to influence, even cause, trends and movements. Ears and tails cut, bull weights and ages, numbers of corridas, are all documented and examined by professionals and public alike, hard pressed to identify the next phenomenon, or decide which cartel to pay for with those hard earned pesos. But, as we are all aware, data hides or distorts events in its own way, and rarely offers an accurate assessment of the emotional or artistic resonance of its subject.

What could have been as many as four ears were reduced to none—a rarity itself in modern Mexican toreo—mostly due to very poor sword work from Tijuana native son Alejandro Amaya, and bona-fide star Octavio Garcia, “El Payo”.
Some blame also falls on the shoulders of new ring judge Fernando Galvan, who in a perhaps ill-advised moment of principle, denied an ear to “Payo” fervently demanded by the smaller, but still decent crowd on hand for the second of the season’s projected six corridas.

If it’s true that Tijuana has always been a bit more than willing to give away ears, it is also true that the “reglamento” —the written rules governing the technical aspects of each event— clearly state that the “public shall, by majority petition, determine the award of the first ear”… The ear in question belonged to “Re-bosero” a well cut black, who, like most of his brothers from the Guanajuato ranch of Cam-po Hermoso, offered ample opportunities for their respective matadors.

Unfortunately, the sword Garcia placed to end an excellent faena was low and to the left of center, and Judge Galvan, perhaps hoping to instill some consistent criteria, denied the ear on that count.

Garcia’s work with “Rebosero” and “Valeroso”, the sixth and perhaps best bull of the day, showcased the undeniable talent of a first class matador. Behind him—mostly—are the adolescent piques of anger and frustration; the hard lessons of a devastatingly poor appearance in Madrid in 2011, with everything to gain or lose, apparently have been absorbed by this immensely talented torero.

From the opening veronicas to both bulls, especially the set to “Valeroso”, to the well structured, firmly executed faenas, again, with a special note for the length, “depth”, control and aesthetic qualities of the “Valeroso” faena, “Payo” was everything he was supposed to be. Only when he tried to milk the indulto—or pardoning of the “Valeroso’s” life; and was denied with complete conviction by Judge Galvan, did his knotty inner-brat emerge, leading to a travesty of 7 failed sword attempts, immolating the probable double-ear trophy.

Garcia, with the crowd’s assistance, worked hard to spare the bull’s life, but such occurrences have become too commonplace and threaten the exceptional bravery they are supposed to champion.

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Judge Galvan endured a wide variety of creative Spanish vituperation for that show of mettle; he was completely justified in doing so.

Alejandro Amaya has always had a fragile relationship with the hometown fans. The stepson of Tijuana strongman/entrepreneur/all-round suspicious type Jorge Hank Rhon (in the extravagantly elegant company of his usual busload entourage), he is only partially a hometown hero.

Resentments and fears of Rhon color crowd response at every action, as does the fact that, of all the toreros of recent coinage that claim Tijuana as their city, Amaya is far and away the most gifted. His monied connections have both helped and hurt him, but he has made his own way in el mundo taurino by his own effort in the ring.

His promise is now past, his appearances mostly couched in hopes of catching a great bull on a good day. Just such a bull was the handsome “Lobito”, a speckled black and white (burraco in taurine speak), who greeted the attendees with a graceful and intense leap into the alleyway between the ring and the stands.

Amaya, who simply wasted his first bull for no apparent reason, was ready to capitalize on the resulting wellspring of emotion, managing a faena of intermittent moments of quality.

Several right handed de-rechazos and left handed naturales were beautifully executed, but there was too much dead time and the faena never built to anything more than isolated moments.

As the tonic of the day dictated, a faulty first sword, a resistant bull, and two descabello (dagger strokes) precluded any awards.

The all but unknown Spanish veteran Vicente Bejarano took on the second and fifth bulls of the “ordinary (on foot)” corrida, and though he clearly demonstrated his excellent schooling and Andalucian insouciance and style, his poor work with the sword also negated a possible ear from “Piti” the fine 5th bull.

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Furthermore, his inclusion, almost certainly for reasons of economics and/or friendship with the principals, begged the question, was this pleasant, but irrelevant, foreigner’s inclusion that wise, when there are so many young, talented and hopeful Mexican matadors ready to change the desperate panorama of Mexican toreo?

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