Gored Spanish bullfighter in intensive care

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A Spanish bullfighter was recovering in intensive care on Saturday after he was gored through the throat during a fight in Madrid, hospital officials said.

The 41-year-old Julio Aparicio was rushed from the bullring to hospital in life-threatening condition Friday night after a bull's horn pierced through his jaw and lower neck, under his chin and back out of his mouth.

The half-ton bull skewered Aparicio after he slipped and stumbled to his knees while executing a pass before a crowd of thousands packing Las Ventas bullring in the Spanish capital.

Surgeons were able to repair the tissues damaged in the horrific goring, and by Saturday afternoon Aparicio had regained consciousness and was in stable condition, a hospital statement said.

The bullfighter's agent said he expected him to make a full recovery, but said mentally it would be hard for him to fight again after his terrifying brush with death.

Nicknamed "Julito", Aparicio comes from a famed bullfighting family and was one of the stars of the San Isidro festival, Spain's biggest annual bullfighting event which draws tens of the thousands to the capital each year.

Pictures of his spectacular injury were plastered across Spanish front pages on Saturday.

The bloody accident was set to inflame the Spanish debate about bullfighting, a deep-rooted national tradition which is under increasing scrutiny from animal rights campaigners.

Spain's northeastern Catalonia region has moved to ban the sport, while the conservative authorities in Madrid have announced plans to enshrine it as part of its cultural heritage, sparking mass anti-bullfighting rallies.

© 2010 AFP

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