Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"El abuelo"

We assumed that it was part of the Mediterranean psychic that drove young men to go into a ring and fight bulls. A sort of death wish that they also exhibit on the roads and in their handling of fireworks. We reasoned that with age and experience they would grow out of it. Either that or bad experiences in the corrida would make them realise it wasn't the safest way to earn a living.

Most toreros retire at a reasonably early age but not this man. The remarkable thing is that not only is he the oldest person in the ring but he is also British.

Three years ago, 62 year old Frank Evans, a grandfather from Salford, was forced to retire from bullfighting on his doctor's orders. Fellow matadors cut his ponytail and carried him on their shoulders from the Benalmadena bullring on the Costa del Sol showing him the same respect they would any full-blooded Spanish torero.

Now aged 65, Frank will will don his cape again and step into the ring in southern Spain on Sunday following a quadruple heart bypass operation and knee replacement surgery completed only a few months ago.

The son of a Manchester butcher, Frank ran off to Spain to enroll at a bullfighting school in the 1960s after reading a book about it. At first he was dismissed as being "too English" and at 23 "too old" to begin to learn the art. However, he went on to dispatch more than 300 bulls in his forty year long career in the ring.

Since killing his first bull in 1966, "El Ingles", as he came to be known, has stunned aficionados unaccustomed to seeing a Briton in the ring.

Frank already has a foot long welt on the inner thigh of his right leg from a goring in Mexico. His lower left leg is scarred from a fight in Spain and his backside was torn apart by the horn of a 15-year-old cow on a training ranch in 1983. But he promises to show no fear when he faces a 350kg bull at Villaneuva de la Concepcion on Sunday.

Good luck Frank.

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