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The Bullfighter - El Cordobes
Impulsivo, The Brave Bull Meets The Matador
"¡Matalo, Hombre!" they scream, rising from their seats. El Cordobes is just an inch away from the sharp horns of Impulsivo, the bull.
The bullfighter just takes one small step back, snatching the red cloth from over Impulsivo's eyes.
Impulsivo's horn then pierces the air behind the red cloth. The first waves of "¡Ole!" did it. Now he could go on and on and on and on.
He had no fear at all. He is a matador, and has always been one. He never really had any fear, not even a little bit of what they call "stage fright."
He was now in total control. Impulsivo, the brave bull, was just a plaything, a mere puppet, and Manolo the matador was the master puppeteer.
This child has been given the plaything he had been craving for. The child is now at play, controlling the puppet with skill, wit, and of course as the situation quite rightly expects, bravery!
Do not disturb him. You cannot. Especially when the plaything called "bull" has now been oficially gifted to him.
The crowd consisting of thousands of Spaniards standing up and leaning forward, hoping to be more audible to the intended target while screaming their hearts out acknowledging, supporting, raving, and yelling for more.
El Cordobes, the bullfighter hears from the middle of the ring. He has heard such screams many times before but this time it was louder, much louder and totally different. These screams had sentiment and were of sentimental value. Yes of course, they were directed at him, and him alone.
Yea! This time, for the very first time, Manolo, now known as El Cordobes, the boy in rags from Cordoba is "El Matador." Right in the middle of the ring, the principal focus is none other than Manolo, el matador muy bravo de Cordoba!
The Promise - Fighting Bull
Today he has become a bullfighter. This was his very first fight. Today he had fulfilled a promise he had made to himself a a mere kid, a promise made to himself in his early childhood.
It was made immediately after watching a black and white movie of a great matador, one of Spain's greatest matadors of that time.
He was absorbed in the movie from the very start and did not stop his involvement thereafter.
When the movie was over, he turned his head away from the screen, deep in thought, in a pensive mood, reviewed the scenes. The most exciting ones came first.
Then he rewinds and goes through it once more. Yes, he said to himself. Fighting bull will be my future.
The scenes in that movie involving that Spanish bullfighter, who was, at that time the hero of many, became his too.
The glamour, the excitement, the respect for the profession, the hero-worship it evoked, and also the earning potential put Manolo in a spell.
Now the time has come for his decision. Today he makes an important decision in his life. That's it! He raises his head and says to himself solemnly, "¡Voy a ser matador!"
He made that promise to himself. He had at that age and moment selected his career. Fighting bull, a career that would raise him to the highest level.
The bravest of the brave will he be one day. He would definitely not break this promise, especially as he had made it to himself.
He will ... and certainly will ... beyond any shade of doubt become a bullfighter!
Now Is The Hour - Putting The Bullfighter To The Test
Today is the day. Today is his chance. He is now the principal focus.
¡Ya es la hora matador!
His speed and instinct enables even innovation. His talents are further fueled by the screams. Instinct becomes the winner.
The magnificent bull is all over him. To his right, to his left, just in front and right behind. It is he who makes it so.
Clever and yet dangerously executed manoeuvres bring on a frenzied audience to a higher boiling point than mere screams. They see but they don't believe. El matador muy bravo is in full cry!
Watch The Matador El Cordobes In Action
Bullfighting Drama Reconstructed
The mind of El Cordobes is also stark active, and fully responsive to the reaction of this ecstatic crowd.
He says to himself, "scream, spectators scream!" If you want more fodder El Cordobes, El matador muy bravo is at your service. And fodder, he surely provides.
Another quick flick of the wrist leaves the bull confounded once more. This time El Cordobes was on his knees. Each time only a fraction of an inch away from sure death.
The spectators near exhaustion. Now they start screaming to one another, "¡Por Dios ... Este hombre es loco!" ... "¡Si! ... ¡Por supuesto!"
This is ridiculous. Inviting such danger from an angry bull was an unforgivable thing indeed. Bulls never forgive. Especially in an arena with a matador and that menacing red cape.
Why should they, when the opportunity to get even is wide open. Impulsivo, the brave bull was furiously lashing his horns at the image that was just there, replaced every now and then by thin air.
The screams of the spectators only intoxicate him into more daring, more innovation and of course his stunning ability to withdraw matching talent from out of the blues to fuel his actions!
Dramatic indeed were his manoeuvres. He completely devalued bullfighting drama and gave it a brand new coating.
The difference was his unorthodox approach which involved innovation that kept the audience guessing and spellbound.
But the point is who will win? Animal or the other. The other? No human could endure such danger for such a long period of time and emerge victor.
What fate awaits this young matador, let loose in the bullring for the very first time in his life? Will this be his very last time too? It seems more likely that it will definitely be his very last time.
Not far away in a temporary prison called home, Angelita Benitez, Manolo's sister, weeps. Weeps in fear. Sheer fear.
At this very moment she is undergoing anxiety and tension which would surely kill a dozen women almost instantly. Will she see her brother alive again?
Born poor and orphaned at a very young age, it became his elder sister's mission to look after the family. The movie did it. His first practice session was carefully pre-planned.
A blanket belonging to his sister dyed red, moonlight to show the way, a high wall to scale, and there he was in the ranch owner's territory, bull territory.
He calls out to the first bull he spots. "¡Hey toro! "¡aqui! ¡aqui!" All he wants is practice. An "opportunidad,"
He knew his capabilities for sure, and envied those before him merely because they had the "opportunidad" which he never even had the potential of having.
A little boy, a street urchin, the brother of his sister, future matador, all in one, Manolo was an orphan and his sister was his future and the future was his sister.
Angelita Benitez, working away from home to earn, and working at home to fulfill a promise she had made to her parents ... to look after the other kids.
That was her mission. At the end of each day she was exhausted. At the beginning of the day more work, to feed the family, to bring up Manolo and his siblings. Tireless she was.
Waiting For Her Younger Brother
Angelita still at home, is as nervous as a sister could be as her brother is away facing continuous danger.
Knowing her brother's intense affection for danger was even more distressful.
All of a sudden she remembers how sure he was before leaving home. If "she" could not stop him. Nothing could. He was dead certain he could handle it. He was talking about it for weeks.
Not a day passed without Angelita making attempts to talk Manolo out of this crazy scheme of becoming a bullfighter. With every warning comes a bigger assurance from Manolo.
The same thing but with much more vigor, and expectation. But the real thing was happening today. She could not go to the arena. She would die of fright, expecting the worst would certainly kill her.
Manolo got her to promise she would not come to watch. More than anything he did not want his sister to suffer. Suffer with the agony of anxiety.
Anxiety which he was sure would grow with every twitch of the bulls horn. She would be dead before the match was over.
Weeping, praying fervently, the anxious sister was waiting, waiting, and waiting, hoping strongly that her brother would come back unharmed. But would he?
If only she knew half of what was happening in the arena at this very moment, she would be dead.
Back in the bullring Manolo did not tire at all. Nor did the bull. Manolo never ran out of tricks. The bull didn't run out of energy either.
Innovation in sport is considered allowed in this game. Here it is one life against another. Who will emerge the victor?
Angelita Benitez, was dying. Anxiety was killing her. Nothing could stop it. Why did she not stop him a year back? Two years back? Three years back? It would have been much easier at that time.
Now with every passing second she became surer and surer that she would not see her brother alive again. She was certain. Dead certain.
More than anything silence was killing her. Silence is a killer indeed. Especially to those undergoing anxiety.
In a situation such as this, although she would know the result very soon, it was the fear that the news of the result could be unbearable. How long can one endure such silence?
... Or I'll Dress You In Mourning ...
The Sound Of Silence
What was going on in the arena? The screams of the spectators were heard for miles. Those who were unable to get in considered themselves most unfortunate.
However, the cacophony of all the screaming told them the full story. Imagination should do the rest.
Back at home it was silence. Continued silence, menacing silence indeed. It was the most awkward silence that Angelita Benitez had ever experienced.
There was absolutely no indication of the silence coming to an end. It never would, even if it does, what is the guarantee that it could bring the much awaited relief.
So, she thought it would be better to face the silence forever than face something that she never ever wanted to face.
She decided. But, even the unbearable silence is beyond her control, as now she sensed that there was a threat to that silence. She felt that the silence was quietly beginning to fade.
The silence, she felt was now slowly fading. It was slowly fading ... to be replaced. Something in the air told her that the silence will soon be replaced ... by something less bearable hopefully.
Or was it that the threat to this long spell of silence, the threat to destroy this silence was itself a threat that could bring unfavorable news?
Or is it that Angelita's ears were playing tricks on her? When there is a hint of the arrival of some news, then hope comes along.
She thought she heard voices. Voices from far. She hoped that she heard right. She was!
Manuel Benitez Perez - El Cordobes
Voices from far away, slowly approaching, some recognizable too. Angelita's ears were now in full focus, listening ... listening like she had never listened before!
She heard, and she heard! She heard like she never heard before! She kept on hearing and then ... she heard what she so badly wanted to hear ... her brother's voice, jubilant too!
The other members of the family along with the neighbours were returning from the arena, jubilant, all of them, and they were all screaming. Screams of jubilance! Yes jubilance indeed! Those screams were nothing less than victory screams!
Victory screams are different from all other forms of screaming! For once, for the very first time in his life, Manolo had failed to outscream everybody else!
Now the storm is over. It's calm. What can a few dozen or so screams do to disturb such a clear calmness that now prevailed?
Not a scar can it create. Everything has now come to a standstill. No more fears.
Intense relief can bring about a great and magical sort of calmness that can never be described.
Only the recent past need be feared. The assurance that Angelita Benitez received from Manolo moments before he left to participate in his very first bullfight.
The first of many. The first is always the best they say. This one, his very first from which he had carved out for himself victory beyond what Angelita Benitez would have dared to hope for.
Can hope be spurred by the assurance that Monolo gave her? ... "Don't Cry Angelita, Tonight I'll Buy You A House, Or I'll Dress You In Mourning!"
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- Best Music - Top 100 Songs
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Yesterday's Matador In More Recent Times
The Book - Or I'll Dress You In Mourning - El Cordobes
Important Footnote - Please Read
Manuel Benitez Perez, known as El Cordobes, was Manolo to his family members.
Born into poverty, yet achieving his ambitions by sheer persistence, this Spanish bullfighter shot to fame with his extraordinary talents, becoming Spain's greatest matador of that era.
From childhood his ambition was to don that bullfighter costume and bring greater honor to the sport than his predecessors.
It was not merely those bullfighter pictures from various magazines that aroused his interest, not just that movie that he saw featuring a great matador of that era, but it was his inbuilt instinct that told him that it was HE who was needed by the sport.
The young and gallant matador from Cordoba mesmerized audiences all over Spain, and held them spellbound with his innovative tactics and dangerous maneuvers.
El Cordobes became a superstar overnight mainly due to his own style and daring.
Daring he was indeed! Just twenty two days after a near-fatal goring by the bull named Impulsivo, he fought again!
He fought until the year 1971 at which time he was the highest paid matador in history. After a period of eight years in retirement, his thirst for the sport got the better of him and he fought again!
However he retired once more in the year 2000. Right now at the age of 73, yesterday's famous bullfighter lives in retirement somewhere in the city of Cordoba.
Manolo's spectacular rise form near zero to total hero is related in superb fashion by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, the duo that wrote the famous book "Is Paris Burning?"
This duo also wrote many award winning tales. They relate the story of El Cordobes in the best seller entitled "Or I'll Dress You In Mourning." This book contains vivid descriptions of every major bullfight that Manolo starred in.
If this brief review aroused your interest in El Cordobes and the story of his life and adventures, I would recommend that you get yourself a copy of this book.
Links To Other Sites On El Cordobes
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