The 10 Best Bullfighters in the History of Bullfighting

A few years ago a group of bull journalists met in Madrid to choose the “Golden Ten of Bullfighting.”

They created a list. Some would argue that there are bullfighters missing while some on the list should not be. There will always be supporters of a particular Matador but the journalists
narrowed down the names of the best.

The result of this meeting was that the following list: Juan Belmonte, Joselito “El Gallo”, Domingo Ortega, Manolete, Pepe Luís Vázquez, Antonio Bienvenida, Antonio Ordóñez, Paco Camino and Curro Romero, “El vití”.

The list were the 10 great masters of the bullfight, although Luís Miguel “Dominguin”could have easily been on the top 11.

When a bullfighter succeeds he is taken out of the bullring through the principal door of the arena on the shoulders of the fans.

Paco Camino was carried out twelve times while “The Viti” came out that door on fourteen occasions. This number has not been exceeded by anyone so far, and I think that it will be very difficult to overcome.

It is necessary to be ranked for many years in order to be considered a master and of all of
these great masters of the bullfighting has been there for decades. Their bullfighting styles have
left an imprint on their fans who had the good fortune to see them fight hard.

This list was created some years ago and if the same exercise were to be done today, without
any doubt it would be necessary to include the actual master of the bullfighting, for some
people the best in history— JOSE TOMAS.

The Golden Ten of Bull Fighting

No. 1 – Juan Belmonte García (April 14, 1892 – April 8, 1962) was a Spanish bullfighter, considered by many to have been the greatest matador of all time. He killed his first bull on July 24, 1910.

As an adult, his technique was unlike that of previous matadors . Juan Belmonte was the single
matador that changed the style of bullfighting. Born with slightly deformed legs he could not

run like other boys, or jump as they could and so when he finally began his career as a matador,
he firmly planted his feet on the ground never giving way. He forced the bull to go around him,
whereas others until then had jumped all over the place like circus performers.

Joselito and Belmonte together

No. 2 – Joselito, May 8, 1895, Gelves, Spain—died May 16, 1920, Talavera de la Reina

Spanish matador, considered one of the greatest of all time. With Juan Belmonte he
revolutionized the art of bullfighting in the second decade of the 20th century.

Joselito was the youngest man ever to receive the title of matador (October 1912). He began
his professional career at age 12 and celebrated his 16th birthday by killing six bulls. Joselito
adopted Belmonte’s unorthodox style, in which the matador remains almost stationary during
the bull’s charge.

No. 3 – Domingo Ortega

Born February 25, 1906 in Borox, Toledo, Spain— died May 8, 1988 in Madrid, Spain,
Domingo Ortega is one of the authentic masters in the history of toreo. Veterans, beginners,
matadors and subalterns focussed their eyes, their heads and their desires on him. He
hung up the suit of lights at 54 years of age, although he continued, while his sight and his
legs permitted, to torear in festivals and in the fields, especially in the finca where his herd
pastured.

No. 4 – Manolete

Manolete is considered by some to be the greatest bullfighter of all time. His style was sober
and serious, with few concessions to the gallery, and he excelled at the ‘suerte de matar’—the
kill. Manolete’s contribution to bullfighting included being able to stand very still while passing
the bull close to his body and, rather than giving the passes separately, he was able to remain in one spot and link four or five consecutive passes

Manolete received his fatal goring in the town of Linares where he appeared alongside the up-
and-coming matador Luis Miguel Dominguín, who, after Manolete’s death, proclaimed himself
to be number one. In response to Manolete’s death, General Francisco Franco, then dictator of
Spain, ordered three days of “national mourning”, during which only funeral dirges were heard
on the radio.

Last year holywood did a movie of Manolete’s life with Penelope Cruz and Adrien Broody.

No. 5 – Pepe Luís Vázquez

The bronzed statue of Pepe Luis Vazques was placed in front of the Plaza de Toros of the Real
Maestranza in 2003 only a short distance from another well known matador, Curro Romero.
He was born in 1921 as Jose Luis Garces Vazques, into a neighbourhood known as being ‘the
district of bullfighters’. He was the leading Matador of Spain during the 1940’s. The sculpture
was created by Alberto Franco.

No. 6 – Antonio Bienvenida

Antonio Bienvenida’s good-bye fight. He was one of the most famous bullfighters of the fifties
and sixties. Antonio Bienvenida, who was killed while testing bulls on a farm.

Caracas, Venezuela; 25 de june de 1922 – Madrid; 7 de octubre de 1975

No. 7 – Antonio Ordoñez

Antonio Ordoñez was one of Spain’s most famous bullfighters. Born in Ronda in 1932, he made
his first public appearance as a bullfighter in 1948 and in 1951, aged 19, he appeared in the
bullring in Madrid. In the glittering career which followed, Ordoñez came face to face with over
1000 bulls. He finally retired in 1968, having fought over 60 bullfights in that year alone.

No. 8 – Paco Camino

No. 9 – Paco Camino
Artistic and charismatic, Paco Camino was a major star in the 1960s-1970s on an international
level. He retired to a quiet life outside Sevilla, but not before seeing his brother, Joaquin, killed
by a bull in Barcelona.

No. 10 – Curro Romero

His debut in Madrid happened on July 18, 1957, with bulls from Alipio Pérez-Tabernero. He was
not very successful on that day.

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