American Bullfighting, it’s phrase not commonly heard across the United States. At least not yet, according to some trying to bring bullfighting into a new arena.
It’s part of a movement away from tradition.
They call it ‘Bloodless Bullfighting’ and it combines all the danger of fighting a wild bull with no harm to the animal.
Bullfighting is a dangerous and bloody activity across the world.
Animal cruelty laws prevent the same killings you’ll see in Mexico or Spain in the U.S.
Now, some of the world’s most prominent bullfighters are looking to settle in the Rio Grande Valley.
We met Manolo Martinez, decedent of Manolo Martinez Ancira. Those in familiar with the bullfighting scene, know the Martinez family as some of the best in the world. They have a long lineage of bullfighting and livestock.
This year we met them at the Santa Maria Bullring in La Gloria, Texas. That’s about an hour away from McAllen. The ring has been there for almost 20 years. The ring’s owner, Fred Renk, has maintained a yearly season of bloodless fights since the year 2000. This June, Renk invites his longtime friends for a private festival.
That is where Manolo Martinez tells us that bloodless bullfighting is a unique artform. “There’s no harm to the bull. It doesn’t bleed out. It’s not flagged… nothing. In the end, it’s left to live its life.”
A bull can only participate in a fight only once. After that it may seek to harm the fighter if placed in the ring once again. In Bloodless fights, the bull can join a rodeo, or kept by its owners.
During our visit, it’s Renk’s 82nd birthday. He celebrates with a private festival and not the fully-grown bulls like a traditional fight. On that day, young cows. They are equally dangerous. One of them almost dismembering a fighter by dropping him and dislocating a shoulder. It’s a danger the Matadors know too well. it’s a risk they’re willing to take.
“It’s something I like. It’s in my blood. It is my entire life,” says longtime bullfighter Jose Daniel Ayala,
“to be a bullfighter… that’s what I like more than anything.”
There was four calves in this festival. Both professionals and amateurs alike joined in for the celebration.
Part of introducing this variation of bullfighting into the U.S. involves importing some of the best bullfighters. Members of the Martinez family have started Ole entertainment, an organization that plans to have established matadors with proper work permits.