MEXICAN MATADORS

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Excerpt from "Mexican Matadors" (1961), by Ann Miller

Jaime Bravo, another torero of the “occasional inspiration” class, was born in the Tepito district of Mexico City, September 8, 1930.  When he was 16, he attracted some attention with his aptitude for the bulls while attending tientas.  His fighting was confined to small plazas for some time, but later he traveled to both Portugal and Spain.

There is a confusion of alternativa dates for Bravo, one given for Palma de Mallorca, one for Portugal, and two for Plaza Mexico, but I will safely use the one supplied by the matador himself.  This took place in Mexico City, February 12, 1956, although the first Mexico City ceremony I heard about was supposed to have taken place two months before.

Handsome, slender, and rather delicately built, Jaime Bravo might be spotted for a dancer instead of a bullfighter, as he is extremely graceful.  There was a short-lived peak in his career where it looked like he was going to set the world on fire with his talent, but he fell into the ranks of the strugglers who fight seldom, and produce only an occasional inspiring afternoon.  Most of his fighting has been in border rings during the last few years, where it must be said in all fairness, he has acquitted himself with valor.

Lately, his luck in drawing exceptional bulls has been nothing short of phenomenal.  September 4, 1960, brought one of those always-hoped for events into Jaime Bravo’s life in the shape of a brave La Puenta bull . . . a real “toro de bandera”, who received the indulto.  According to the reports of the Tijuana corrida, Jaime fought him with great artistry, and was symbolically awarded ears and a tail for what everyone thought must be the peak of his career as a matador.  The bull, “Tunante”, whose noble life was spared so that he could pass his qualities on to brave calves, was returned to the ranch.  As if this lucky incident wasn’t enough, Bravo drew another such animal a few weeks later, and although this one didn’t receive the indulto, it was considered another “toro de bandera” . . . a beast of exceptional bravery.  Both of these events have greatly lifted Jaime Bravo’s cartel, and if he can sustain his work with lesser animals (naturally he can’t keep on drawing bulls of this quality) his future is assured.

In 1957, between April 1 and October 31, there were 128 corridas in Mexico.  Jaime Bravo appears about three-quarters of the way down the list with 6 corridas.  (This was the year that the valiant now-retired Miguel Angel topped the list with 21 fights.)  For the summer season of 1958, Bravo fought 3 times and cut 2 ears.  The year 1959 shows an appalling drop for the same period . . . 1 corrida, no awards, and a bull returned to the corrales alive.

Suddenly 1960 found a new Jaime Bravo in 11th place on the Mexican list for summer and fall.  He fought 10 corridas, and cut 20 ears, 5 tails, and 2 hooves!  This wild record, in view of Bravo’s past performances, is little less than electrifying, and although many of the aficionados who witnessed a few of these afternoons are still reserving their opinions, this coming year will prove whether this “boom” is a flash in the pants, or something that the young matador can sustain.

The vagaries of the profession are too multitudinous and complicated to understand.  A summer report (1960) from Matamoros stated that Jaime Bravo totally wasted on of his bulls, but was like a man “reborn” with his second, performing valiantly and artistically, and topping his faena with a perfect kill.  His awards for that effort . . . two ears and the tail.