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Opponents of Mexican bullfighting say that it is a cowardly bloodsport only showing man’s ability to show disgusting cruelty to animals. Supporter’s of Mexican bullfighting, however, feel it is an important tradition of the Mexican culture. They consider bullfighting a form of art like painting or sculpture. After all, bullfighting was first recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Mexicans feel pride in knowing that children come from around the world to train to be bullfighters.
Bullfighting came to Mexico with the Spanish Conquistadors. Hernan Cortes wrote of bullfighting in Mexico in his letters to the king. The first bullfight in Mexico was on June 26th, 1526 and was performed in honor of Hernan Cortes’ safe return from Honduras. The largest bullfighting stadium in the world in the Plaza de Toros in Mexico City. The Plaza de Toros opened in 1946 and was blessed by the Mexican Archbishop at that time. The Plaza de Toros holds up to 60,000 people on any given Sunday during the bullfighting season which runs November through April.
As in many parts of the world, a Mexican bullfight is filled with drama and awe. People from many different ranks in life are all seated in a circular stadium. The variety of the types of people range from the finely dressed, wealthy, who look like they just came from Spain to the farmers who like to drink Sangria from a canteen. To begin the bullfight, a raging bull enters the ring. He is taunted by the picadores, horsemen whose job it is to weaken the muscles of the bull by stabbing it, especially in the back. Then the matador comes out to put on his show, taunting the bull some more and displaying control over the massive animal through grace, balance, and beautiful movements of the red cape.
Next are the Banderilleros who stab the bull with colorful sticks. They especially aim for the spinal cord so as to weaken the bulls neck muscles and so preparing him for the grand finale. For the final bit of showmanship, the matador grabs the audience’s attention again through his maneuvering of the cape and captivating the bulls attention. The matadors only goal at this point to drive a shiny sword into the bull as though killing him. When the bull has fallen his spinal cord will be cut to ensure immediate death and to be sure he no longer suffers. The bull is then dragged out of the ring by two mules.
Mexico has many different sports and traditions but bullfighting is the most dangerous sport yet. It is hated by many but loved by so many more people. Bullfighting will always be a Mexican tradition.
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