"Manolete" (1917-1947) , is the most legendary bullfighter in recent Spanish history. He imposed his own style, which although perhaps polemic, gave way to passionate debates, talks and articles, leaving its mark to this day. He was to bring about a whole new concept in the art of bullfighting, establishing a clear distinction of fighting before and after Manolete. He was liked by the new Spanish post civil war generations (1936-1939), He almost dispensed with the "lidia", with the fancy play with the cape, and especially concentrated on the "faena" with the red cloth "muleta". He took the basics of bullfighting and turned them into an art. His characteristic upright stance throws into relief the verticality of the bull. It seems as though the horned creature charges around a pole, the bullfighters feet do not move, he lowers his hand, he holds his "muleta" backwards and low, turns his profile to the bull, and challenges, come what may!
Manolete was always constant in his certainty and art at making the kill. We may say that the final thrust was the basis of his formation, where he gave his all. He always took maximum risks in his "muletazos" ( cape passes), with the bulls horns barely missing his clothing.
The comfortable shoe which is used by bullfighters nowadays was named after and made popular by him, not merely by the fact of him being the inventor but because of the strong personality which he imprinted on them at the moment of truth,the kill.
His style was an extension of his human character, austere, basic, serious and brave, sober and tough but always elegant, He dominated his bull in the same way as he dominated his social life.
Manolete was also to impose a new kind of bull, a less powerful and more "anovillado" (young and noble) beast, which is not surprising, as the bloody Spanish civil war had left the people with little inclination to revive the cruelty of traditional bullfighting. Now more than ever people wanted to live and enjoy themselves, even though they may have to do so on an empty stomach, in an atmosphere of national reconstruction.
Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez, "Manolote", born in Córdoba 1917. Son of Agustina Sanchez and bullfighter of same name and artistic name as himself, He escapes from the poverty of his home, facing death, and has by the age of 12 already given several "capotazos" and the following year makes his public debut in the Montilla school of bullfighting (Cordoba). Soon after becoming an itinerant member of the bullfighting show "Los Califas".
In June 1939 he takes his leave as "Novillero"(novice) and one month later becomes a fully fledged bullfighter, receiving his "alternativa", ( ceremony in which a bullfighter authorizes a novice to take his place among the doctorate bullfighters)in Chiclanero, Seville. He confirms his "alternativa"or doctorate in Madrid, 12th October of the same year, at the hands of Marcial Lalanda, sharing the bill with Juan Belmonte.His great success that afternoon was unforgettable. He closed his season as a recently iniciated matador with a total score of 16 bullfights, and with unbeatable prospects for the coming season.
His name appears on the posters of all the most important bullfights. He fights in Seville, Alicante, Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid. From that same year Manolete becomes the star of Spanish bullfighting. At the end of the season of 45 he travels to the bullrings of Mexico. Peru, Venezuela and Colombia to display his characteristic style of fighting, obtaining overwhelming success, which converts him into the most famous worldwide bullfighter.
He maintains a long lived rivalry with the Mexican,Carlos Arruza, and also with the no less brave young bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin, who challenges him publically. On the 16th July 1947 he fights in the Monumental Bullring of Las Ventas in Madrid. It is to be his last afternoon at this Taurine Cathedral.
The arrival of other young swords and his exhaustion from fighting make him think of retiring.
Paradoxically his most outstanding qualities were his self assurity and his humility. His closest friends recall his manliness both inside and outside the arena, and his formality within the bullring, which inspires in them a great respect.
His sentimental life on the other hand is brief. He falls in love with a young artist from La Mancha, a well-known and rather brazen girl called Lope Sino , who had been associated with other matadors of the day.As Manolete lies dying from his mortal goring,all access is forbidden to her for fear of a controversial deathbed marriage.
Manolete with his young and beautiful girlfriend Lope Sino.
Days before the 28th August the announcements appear at the Linares Bullring (Jaen), together with Gitanillo de Triana and Luis Miguel Dominguin, with the famous fierce bulls of Miura.
Poster announcing the great bullfight in the bullring of Linares.
Finally the much awaited afternoon for the bullfighting enthusiasts arrives..At 4.45 the heat is suffocating .10,500 people fill the ring with great expectation..The matadors have entered the arena with their quadrille. Their golden suits sparkle under the relentless sun. The reporters tell of how his face was full of consternation.
After a brilliant "faena" with the previous bulls ,the drums and bugles announce the fifth Miura, named Islero, with horrendous horns and true to his fierce caste he breaks into the arena with fury , charging anything that moves.With the conclusion of the ·lidia" and the final act of the "muleta" Manolete positions himself for the kill, making the steel disappear completely into the loin of the beast. Immediately after, the bull digs his horn deep into the bullfighters right thigh.The public shout, appalled by the terrible goring of their idol, who complains bitterly while being carried to the infirmary. In spite of everything he is awarded both ears.Dr. Garrido and his team manage to stop the bleeding,he undergoes an operation and is given several blood transfusions, but his state remains grave. Dr. Giménez Guinea , then official doctor of the Madrid bullring is called upon to attend , arriving at 4 oclock . Within an hour the great matador is dead.The tragedy leaves the whole of Spain and all the world enthusiasts in a complete state of shock
His nerve and serenity has remained as an impeccable example. The bullfighting world was left with no doubt to recognize the distinctive features of a real man.
On each anniversary the quadrilles in every bullring ,go around the ring bareheaded in his memory.
The Controversy of the Plasma
In March of the current year, 1997, Dr. Fabián Garrido, son of the doctor who attended Manolete, publically announced that a doctor from Madrid , applied a dry plasma of doubtful efficiency based on statistics. From World War II, and which could have been the cause of his death. However, the expert stockbreeder Alvaro Domecq affirms that "Manolete was killed by Islero"
Throughout this fiftieth anniversary year of his death, a series of functions are being held in his town of birth, in his memory. A lo largo de este año en que se cumple el 50 aniversario de su muerte, se vienen celebrando en su cuidad natal, .
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