August 28, 1998


Bullfight World...
By Lynn Sherwood

A Salute to Aficionado Practico Bruce Hutton



Bruce Hutton

In the planet of the bulls, every era has had two or three grand figuras who have dominated, while the other matadors have settled for feeding on the leftover crumbs. Joselito and Belmonte. Manolete and Carlos Arruza. Paco Camino and El Cordobés. Fermín Espinosa Ardillita and El Soldado are just a few examples.

It is the same at the highest level of toreros as at the lowest. The paradigm extends even unto the world of aficionados prácticos, amateur toreros. California has had more than its share of such toreros, men and women who have put it all on the line, purely out of love for the art, without thought to financial gain, indeed at great expense to themselves. It can be pricey. Sometimes, the best toreros are those who have enough money to perform more frequently than do the others.

Many of California's aficionados prácticos belonged to Los Muleteros, a club that was comprised exclusively of amateur toreros. And, as is the case with professionals, there were the stars and the also-rans in Los Muleteros. Guillermo (Bill) Torres and Pete Rombold were, and still are, active toreros.

Oh, we had some grand times, performing in Tijuana, Juárez, and even in major rings in the interiors. Members, such as this reporter, competed with Torres and Rombold, but the outcome was almost always foretold. Those guys were, and are good. Really good. We didn't take it personally; we just did our best, and once in a while, we enjoyed our own days of wineskins and roses.

One member of Los Muleteros, in particular, would perform on a moment's notice. San Diegan Bruce Hutton would torear anything that came out of the toríl gate, anywhere, any time. Bruce, as the other members of the club, had our good days, and we had our bad ones. We basked in the glory of success, or we choked on the dust of failure, while we congratulated those who had registered triumphs.

But, there comes a time in the life of any torero, full matador or lowly amateur, when it becomes obvious that the spirit may be willing, but the flesh has grown weak. The gusano, that nasty little worm of afición that lives in the belly of every torero, says, "Let's go!" But, that silly worm is forever young. It cannot identify with the pain of just not being able to do it any longer. It's time to quit, and to allow the gusano to feast on younger toreros.

Each of us wants our last performance to be a good one; we want to leave on a triumphant note. But that goal can be deceptive. If we triumph, we feel that we need not retire, that we can go on forever. Failure announces to the world that it's all over.

That moment of truth finally became obvious to Bruce Hutton. He knew that his last festival would truly be his last. And, he wanted to leave, hopefully in triumph, but, if not, at least in style. So, he organized a festival in Plaza Monumental de Tijuana, where greats such as Antonio Ordoñez and Luis Miguel Dominguín had performed.

Bruce went to local ganadero Hernando Limón and purchased front line novillos. He paid for the transportation and expenses of American Matador David Renk and Matadora Raquel Martinez. He invited retired Matador Pepe López Hurtado, owner of the ring, to perform. He paid for the picador and for union fees of the matadores. He paid for everything!

And the festival, celebrated Aug. 15, was a great success. No, it didn't attract anything resembling a capacity crowd. And, no, Bruce, personally, did not enjoy a triumph. But, it didn't matter. Bruce did it his way, and he did it with panache.

We won't be seeing Bruce perform in the rings anymore, but the memories of the way that he said adios will be recalled for many years. Bullfight World salutes Bruce Hutton. Torero and friend.

******

Triumph of Enrique Garza

Through the first four bulls, presented last Sunday in Plaza Monumental, this reporter was ready to call it a day. The bulls of Arroyo Hondo were large, mature, and possessed of menacing horns. But, their toreros, Antonio Urrutia, Enrique Garza, and "El Zapata" didn't seem up to the challenge. Urrutia played the part of a border tremendista, cutting one, very liberal ear. Garza was boring. And El Zapata missed an ear when his sword failed him.

Oh, there was some excitement. All three matadors exchanged banderillas, and there were a couple of al limones, in which two matadors worked the cape to the same bull.

But then, something happened. Garza and Urrutia had a dispute that threatened to escalate into a fist fight. They exchanged banderillas placements in something that more closely resembled a war than a happy interchange. And with that bull, the first of the afternoon, Garza delivered a performance that made the bells rings. With cape and muleta, Garza worked in grand fashion and he topped the faena with a fabulous sword placement that resulted in an award of ears and tail.

With the last bull of the day, El Zapata, likewise, offered a stellar performance with cape, banderillas, and muleta. His temple with the muleta was enormous! He deserved two ears, but was awarded only one, but it was, nevertheless, a great performance.

*****

TORO TOPICS

This Sunday, in Plaza Mo-numental, Fernando Ochoa makes a return following his triumph of Aug. 16. He will alternate with César Castañeda and newcomer Raúl Gómez. See you there.

*****

Spanish Matador El Cordobés Hijo remains in critical condition, following a terrible goring last week in Spain. The horn passed through his rectum, unto the scrotum.

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