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2-min read

From Bull Ring to Taxi Rank: Spain's Moonlighting Matadors

In Spain, where bullfighting is steeped in glamour and tradition, matadors are often elevated to celebrity status, bullfighters nevertheless often struggle to make ends meet.

Reuters

Updated:July 26, 2017, 6:23 PM IST
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From Bull Ring to Taxi Rank: Spain's Moonlighting Matadors
Alberto Lamelas adjusts his montero (bullfighter hat) in a hotel room before taking part in a bullfighting during San Isidro festival at Las Ventas bullring in Madrid, Spain, June 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Sergio Perez)
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Madrid: When he's not facing a bull in the ring, dressed in the richly embroidered costume worn by matadors, Alberto Lamelas can be found in jeans and sneakers circling Madrid in his taxi looking for customers.

In Spain, where bullfighting is steeped in glamour and tradition, matadors are often elevated to celebrity status, bullfighters nevertheless often struggle to make ends meet.

Like many other matadors, Lamelas, 33, has to supplement his income with other jobs to finance the expensive equipment and "traje de luces", or suit of lights, worn in the ring.

"Many of us have to make do as best we can," he said.

Lamelas, who graduated from trainee bullfighter, or "novillero", to matador in 2009, barely manages to score four fights a year. But he still sees bullfighting as his calling, despite waning enthusiasm among Spaniards for the sport. He trains on an almost daily basis in a disused ring on the outskirts of Madrid.

Lamelas-awaits
Alberto Lamelas stands beside his taxi as he waits in queue for costumers at Atocha rail station in Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Sergio Perez)

"What I am, above everything, is a bullfighter," he said.

Lamelas made his second ever appearance this summer at Madrid's grand Las Ventas bullring during the San Isidro festivities - the ultimate stage for matadors seeking to make a name for themselves.

He spent several hundred euros hiring a suite at a hotel often used by matadors or "toreros".

lamelas-fights-a-bull
Alberto Lamelas performs a pass as he takes part in a bullfighting during San Isidro festival at Las Ventas bullring in Madrid, Spain, June 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Sergio Perez)

Even dressing for the occasion was steeped in ritual. Every element of clothing, from the bright pink tights to the tie, was carefully laid out and put on in a precise order. Lamelas wore a deep blue "traje", or suit, with gold epaulettes and adornments.

He killed two bulls in that fight. But days later, he was back at the taxi stand, reliving his highlights from Las Ventas as he inched forward in a queue of cars waiting for passengers at Madrid's Atocha train station.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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