March 1, 2021

Sixty years of the "dangerous summer" of Ordóñez and Dominguín


The rivalry between Antonio Ordóñez Y Luis Miguel Dominguín inspired now sixty years one of the last books of the American Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway and that confrontation between brothers-in-law, devised by Domingo Dominguín, the patriarch of the saga, ended up being bloody and real.

1959 marked the end of an era in bullfighting. But it was not, far from it, an indifferent year. Antonio Ordóñez and Luis Miguel Dominguín were at different points in their careers while bullfighting was preparing for a new decade, the so-called Platinum Age, which would see other bullfighting giants emerge. Paco Camino, Diego Puerta or Santiago Martín, the Viti.

The first figures were reluctant to surrender their scepters. Luis Miguel had been the last paladin that disturbed Manolete, but in 1947 it was only a few years before a historical figure emerged, that of Antonio Ordóñez, who at the end of the 50s had already reached its fullness.

The rondeño had entered the orbit of Dominguín house by way of empowerment, closeness that favored the courtship and subsequent wedding with Carmen, Luis Miguel's sister and daughter of the old Domingo Dominguín, the great bullfighting of Quismondo that cemented the saga .

Antonio married on Luis Miguel's farm in 1953 but over the years, the relationship between the two brothers-in-law was far from idyllic -they were two imposing cocks in the same corral-, and the seizure broke down in 1956, Ordóñez returning to the fold of Camera; and it was in that breeding ground when the brief professional pairing was created that it could begin in opportunism and ended up in competition.

Patriarch Dominguin, on his deathbed, wanted to fix the estrangement between his brothers-in-law and made his son Luis Miguel promise that he would alternate with Antonio.

Domingo González passed away when the season declined and at the dawn of the 1959 it was announced that Ordóñez and Luis Miguel were going to fight together, although, dead the father, Domingo son would be in charge of organizing the season.

The so-called "Dangerous Summer" was actually limited to ten bullfights in which Ordóñez and Dominguín alternated with bullfighters such as Pepe Luis Vázquez, who had reappeared briefly that same year, Bienvenida, Ostos, Mondeño or Gregorio Sánchez.

But the sparks jumped especially in the heads-up that were scheduled in the squares of Valencia, Malaga, Ciudad Real and Bayonne.

There was no trap or cardboard. Antonio fell wounded in Aranjuez, Palma de Mallorca and Dax; and his brother-in-law Luis Miguel would receive the most serious injuries in Malaga and Bilbao.

Some companies wanted to lower, and still argue, the real tension of that confrontation between brothers-in-law wanting to see a mere and profitable advertising boast hatched in the offices of the Dominguines.

It was not so. Alfonso Ordóñez Araújo, privileged witness of that time, flatly denied: "The dangerous summer existed and proof of them is that both fell wounded three times," says the prestigious banderillero, who in 1959 still remained in the ranks of novilleros.

Alfonso Ordóñez, current advisor to the presidency of bullfighting celebrations held in the Plaza de la Maestranza, clearly recalls the hand of Ciudad Real. "That was tremendous," he recalls. "Luis Miguel was very good but Antonio's was something else".

That day was also one of the most picturesque anecdotes of the year. Hemingway was accompanied in his particular entourage by a baseball player named Hotchner who Ordonez came to wear as a bullfighter for the paseíllo. The Yankee hitter did not dare leave the alley although Juan de la Palma, who was a banderillero with his brother Antonio, offered him a pair of banderillas that almost caused him to faint.

After fighting in Ciudad Real, Alfonso Ordóñez continues to remember, they dined at the Green Rana de Aranjuez. Luis Miguel, lame from an injury, hesitated to travel to Bilbao but seeing his brother-in-law enter the same restaurant -he had heard him hesitate- thundered that he would be in the Basque arena. "That day he took the horn in the belly carrying the bull to the horse," evokes the veteran lidiador.

But the so-called "Dangerous Summer" had not ended … Luis Miguel had kept his promise and would match up with Antonio in some posters of the 60's season but with the death of old Dominguín that was the days counted. The seizure broke down, and Luis Miguel retired from bullfighting that year. Antonio Ordóñez and Luis Miguel did not fight again together.

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