British matador makes comeback in Spain at 67

31st August 2009, Comments 1 comment

Most matadors retire when they are in their 40s, but El Ingles defies traditions when he slayed two bulls of 500 kilogrammes on Sunday.

Benalmadena – A 67-year-old former butcher from Britain has made his comeback as a top-flight matador in Spain, defying not only his age but the heart and knee problems that forced him to retire four years ago.

Frank Evans, known in Spain simply as 'El Ingles', successfully slayed two bulls of around 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) Sunday with a final sword thrust, after assistants known as picadors, one of them on horseback, had speared the animals in the shoulder to weaken them.

He was cheered by the 300 or so spectators in the small bullring in Benalmadena near Malaga in southern Spain, many of them British holidaymakers, and carried out on the shoulders of his colleagues.

"I'm back in the swim now, I'm back as an active matador," a beaming Evans said afterwards.

But he acknowledged that he could have performed better.

"We all want to be perfect and I was far from perfect today," said Evans, looking fit and relaxed and belying his age.

Now a grandfather of five, he was first inspired to become a bullfighter after visiting Spain to attend the wedding of a Spanish friend, and then from reading the 1950s autobiography of Vincent Hitchcock, the first British bullfighter.

Aged 22, he left his father's butcher shop in Salford near Manchester in northwest England, to attend bullfighting school in Valencia, Spain.

He made his debut in 1966 in Montpellier in southern France -- after being mistaken for another British bullfighter in Spain, Henry Higgins.

A shortage of money, equipment and honest promoters caused Evans to throw in the towel in the late 1960s.

He returned to England to find work and settled down with his wife Margaret and their two children, also becoming close friends with the late Northern Irish football legend George Best.

But becoming a successful businessman did not dampen his passion for bullfighting, so in 1979 he returned to Spain and seized every opportunity to get into the bullring.

His efforts finally paid off in 1991, when, at the age of 49, he took the "alternativa" -- earning the right to fight mature bulls of over 500 kilogrammes as a fully-fledged matador.

He first retired in 2005, and then underwent both reconstructive knee surgery to fix an injury from his early days playing rugby, and quadruple bypass surgery.

In 2008, he took to the ring again in warm-up fights with small bulls.

On Sunday, he again wriggled into his skintight "suit of lights" and pink stockings to make his official return in the major ranks of matadors.

"I'm feeling great, I've been working for a few weeks getting ready, lots of running and going to the gym," he told AFP moments before entering the ring. "But the big test is now."

He said afterwards he had no plans to give up.

"When you see me with a walking stick, then I'll be convinced it's time to stop."

He said in his just-released autobiography, "The Last British Bullfighter," that most bullfighters quit in their 40s.

"The secret is: do they like doing whatever they've given up bullfighting for? This is what people didn't understand about me. The one thing I loved to do and still do is to stand in a bullring and fight a bull.

"Everything else connected to life simply pales into insignificance. Nothing can beat that little bit of fear and adrenalin that fighting a bull instils."

AFP / Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • Edna Rekhyl posted:

    on 31st August 2009, 12:21:25 - Reply

    How can you glorify this man in your paper.?He is a disgrace to the UK. It is bad enough that the Spanish carry on this barbaric game in the name of sport,but to see a fellow countryman disgrace himself by tormenting and punishing an innocent creature to it's agonisingly painful demise is unbearable. Has this arrogant fool no feelings for the pain he inflicts on a beautiful, powerful ,innocent animal. If he killed an animal in this manner in UK, he would be prosecuted and possible sent tp prison for a considerable time. Shame on you for printing his story.