"El Ingles," Frank Evans, Still Fighting Bulls. (He's on TV this Friday)
Is bullfighting any worse than what we do?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thoughtlessly condemning bullfighting is illogical
“El Ingles” Frank Evans, Still Fighting Bulls.
Frank “El Ingles” Evans was interviewed briefly on BBC Breakfast this morning. The unimaginative dwarf that does the sports reporting asked all the obvious questions and emphasized the cruelty angle. Pity someone who knew something about bullfighting wasn’t there to ask this interesting man questions that I, for one, would have liked to have heard answered. Such as how many and how bad were the “cornadas” (horn wounds) he had received. We might have been able to see a couple of the scars these awful wounds always leave. Evans did field the usual questions with diplomatic and courteous skill, having been asked them all before, ad nauseum. In fact, he reminded my very much of the late John Fulton, the great North American matador, who won the respect of Hispanics in Mexico as well as Spain. I would have liked to ask Evans if he had any creative talent like Fulton who was an accomplished artist; the Englishman seemed most intelligent and appeared well educated.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Evans is that he is back fighting bulls in his mid sixties this and last year after retiring a few years ago to have knee reconstruction and a triple by-pass heart operation. Evans has said in interviews that he has received many threats, including some threatening his life, from animal activists. He remains unmoved by such drama. Men who get in the ring with bulls tend to be unfazed by confrontations with mere men.
I was amused to reflect on what Pepe Silva, a Mexican matador had said to me some years ago. “We are matadors until we die,” the silver-haired 70-year-old had said as we sat in his box in the Monumental Bullring in Mexico City. He looked down on the action far below on the blood stained sand. “I would take on the bull right now, if they asked me,” Pepe said wistfully, and meant every word of it.
I reported on bullfighting in Mexico for 5 years in the 1990’s and know just how hard it is for non-Latin’s to be accepted by the bullfighting fraternity. Most are on guard and waiting for the Anglo to burst into a diatribe against what is to them a way of life, probably handed down, man and boy, for many generations. For Gringos to condemn bullfighting is eminently stupid unless they have taken in consideration how much better off is the fighting bull than his peers reared for slaughter. A bull destined for the ring lives for 4 or 5 years on a beautiful range with others of the herd. He is left alone by man to develop into the wild and dangerous animal he is by nature; much more like a water-buffalo in character than a farmyard animal. He is destined to die and will not survive the encounter with the matador in the bullring, except in the rare cases he is granted an “indultado” and is spared, never to fight again, but to be used as a “semental” or stud bull to add his genes to future stock to ensure their bravery and stamina.
Yes, the bull’s “moment of truth” is mindlessly cruel when viewed by most standards, but don’t most creatures get a raw deal from man? That may not make it right, but at least there’s no artifice in the bullring. And the matador is really brave, not like some effete British-blue blood blasting pheasants from the sky, or galloping over hedges shouting “Tally-ho” at other, half-pissed idiots. And it is, after all, their business, not ours, and Mexicans at least, with their rigid policy of non-interference in other countries politics and affairs, can comment with much justification, “Ha! You cry for the bull, what about your poor soldiers dying in agony in wars that should have nothing to do with you!”
Evans is a full matador, that is, he has received his “Alternativa,” the formal envesture from a “matador de novillas” to a full “matador de toros,” And although he admits he may not be a top matador, he has certainly won respect from his peers after facing bulls for 40 years. Not bad for an ex butcher from Salford.
John Fulton is generally regarded as the best Anglo matador to enter the sport, or art, or however you refer to it. Really, as Hemingway, the most knowledgeable non-Latin commentator said, it would be better know as theatre. It is a play in three parts, the “terceros,” but I am not going into the whole scenario of the bullfights in this article. Anyone really interested would be better served by getting hold of a copy of Hemingway’s magisterial “Death in the Afternoon,” the vade mecum of the subject in English.
I any one has any questions about bullfighting, I will try to answer them and add the content to this hub like a Q and A. I am not interested in commenting on the cruelty angle, it goes nowhere.