It is 50 years since the death of José Mata, the last Canarian bullfighter


That tragedy, caused by the bull ‘Cascabel’, of Luis Frías’ currency, generated not a little controversy in the press of the time, while the lack of means and the delay in medical intervention – in a situation similar to that of the of Paquirri years later – caused the wound, with a ruptured femoral vein, will gangrene until inevitably resulting in the death of the right-hander.

José Mata García was born 34 years and three days earlier in the parish of Tricias in the town of Garafia, on the island of La Palma, from where, like so many countrymen, he emigrated to Venezuela with his family when he was just a few years old.

He became fond of bullfighting in Caracas, where he had emigrated with his family within a few years


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He became fond of bullfighting in Caracas, where he was trained by the local right-hander Eleazar Sananes, alternating his first steps in the trade with working in a brother’s restaurant and receiving drama classes. throughout his career, Mata combined activity in the ring and with the turntables.

He returned to Spain to make his debut as a bullfighter in the early 1960s and finally took the alternative in Benidorm (Alicante) on August 8, 1965 from the hands of Manuel Benítez “El Cordobés”, with whom he had a good friendship.

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José Mata thus became the second, and last moment, bullfighter born in the fortunate islands, after Avelino Rivero ‘Pedrucho de Canarias’, who received her in 1953 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and who fought very few bullfights before becoming a banderillero and settling in Venezuela.

Many more, although only 27, came to add Mata, who had a hard time breaking through the competitive and closed bullfighting of the 70s, although he did manage to gain a more than estimable atmosphere in Las Ventas, where the alternative confirmed the year 65 and came to act up to twelve times between bullfights and bullfights, with the added cut of several ears.

A higher quality bullfighter than he was recognized, the canary stood out on several afternoons in Madrid with very tough bullfights, such as the first by Victorino Martín, and he even managed to fight six bulls of the Count de la Maza alone in the Monumental de la calle of Alcalá on October 4, 1970.

However, he only made two walks in the Canary Islands, and both in 1971, in the then recently opened Plaza de Las Palmas and in Tenerife, just before cutting his last ear in Madrid just three Sundays before entering, with Carnicerito de Úbeda and Paco Ceballos, in the fateful poster of the July 25 in Villanueva de los Infantes, and replacing the announced Juan Calero.

Death

It was in that hidden ring of La Mancha that the accurate goring of ‘Cascabel’ put an end to what seemed to be the definitive takeoff of Mata, who, married to the dancer Marie France Goudard, during those years was a regular supporting actor in films such as Blackmail a bullfighter, together with El Cordobés, The Reliquary, with Sara Montiel, Don erre que erre, with Paco Martínez Soria, or The sailor with the golden fists, with boxer Pedro Carrasco.

After his death, bullfighting activity continued in the Canary Islands and, in his wake, bullfighters such as Orlando Ramos, Fabián Sosa, Manuel Rivero or Juan Manuel Fierro emerged, although none reached the level of Mata, which a bust continues to remember in a from the streets of Santa Cruz de la Palma.

Considered the symbol and the best representative of the modest but long Canarian bullfighting, Mata did not see how, despite the fact that there is no specific law that prohibits them, no bullfighting celebration has been held in the Islands for almost forty years. years.

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