There is a vast difference between the Mexican bulls and the Spanish bulls used in the bullring.
“The Spanish bulls are bigger, slower and stronger,” remarked the late Spanish torero, Paco Pallares of Salamanca, several years ago when performing across the ocean in Nogales, Mexico. “The Mexican bulls are smaller, faster and lighter. They require two different styles of control. In Spain, you have less passes, but much more art and domination from the torero. In Mexico, you have more passes, but less art.”
Thus, many Mexican matadores have a hard time when they come to Spain, if they are not able to adjust to the differences in the breed of animal.
Some flat could not make the shift in conditions. Some matadores who were top draws in their native Mexico, went down in flames. Silverio Perez, for example, failed miserably in Spain and while the Mexican ace of aces, Manolo Martinez, succeeded in the smaller rings, his Madrid presentation was such a disaster he left Spain, vowing to never return to the Las Ventas bull ring again. He didn’t.
Likewise. El Queretano, Finito. Arturo Ruiz Loredo, Jesus Delgadillo “Estudiante,” Fernando De La Pena Luciano Contreras, Mauro Liceaga, Adrian Romero and Rafael Gil “Rafaelillo” were highly regarded in Mexico, but scarcely made a splash on Spanish soil or particularly in Madrid.
For the most part, the bulls were too much for them. Romero, for example, took a major goring in Madrid during his debut. While underestimating his animal, he broke the shafts of the banderillas down to a third their normal length and tried to place these in his toro, as he had done many times before in the Mexican rings. The Spanish beast, however, slammed straight into him and sent him to the infirmary with a huge leg wound.
On the other hand, a slight number of Mexicans were recognized for their Spanish showings and became favorites in Iberia, starting with Rodolfo Gaona in the 1910s. Others to follow in subsequent decades were Carlos Arruza, Armillita, Manolo Arruza, Antonio Lomelin. Guillermo Carvajal and the Silveti family.
It would be the Silveti that serve as a focal point for this piece.
First came Juan Silveti, known as “Juan Sin Miedo” or “Fearless Juan” for his raw courage. He was not the most graceful of toreros, but utterly reckless before the horns and took numerous gorings in pursuit of triumph.
His son, Juanito, likewise achieved success in both Mexico and Spain in the 1950s, especially for his ability to make quick kills with the sword.
Before retiring to his own bull ranch in Mexico, he gave the world two bullfighting sons, Alejandro and David.
Alexandro made varied trips to Spain, but was regarded much more highly in Mexico, while his brother David conquered the Spanish soil. Things, however, did not end happily.
Alejandro is alive and well, assisting in the career of his nephew, Diego, whom we will get to. David, however, met a tragic end. After a number of gorings in one leg, he came to the realization that he could no longer fight bulls. The desire was there, but his body could and would not comply, so in a fit of depression, he shot himself.
Before his shocking final act, however, he also gave the world a son named Diego, who would continue in the family tradition of fighting the bulls.
From the very onset, the new Silveti proved talent is indeed hereditary. Thanks to the family’s owning of a bull ranch in the Mexican interior, he was able to practice his art while still a child and as an adult, already had a firm knowledge of the art form.
Diego would rise in the Mexican ranks and go on to conquer Spain. With the big capote and the smaller muleta, he resembled his late father much in style. At times, when the sun was fading across the sand and the last animal of the day was being faced, it looked as if the dead had risen and David Silveti was living again through his offspring.
In 2011, Diego toured both France and Spain, making a number of successful showings. Then in 2012, he confirmed his alternativa in Madrid, a ceremony known exclusively to bullfighting in which the newer matador :graduates: for lack of a better word, to the highest rank in his profession. The matadores on the card with him exchange capes and say a few kind words, then that is it. The ritual is finished.
During this important Madrid presentation, Silveti was again impressive. Though he cut no ears, he was loudly applauded and all those witnessing the corrida went away convinced the Mexican torero was someone to again keep an eye on. Since then, he has not allowed the pace to falter.
Through the son, the tragedy of the father has been erased and life goes on.
While it might be easier for Americans to catch Silveti in a border performances within Mexico, in places like Juarez, Tijuana, Nogales or Reynosa, opportunity is also where you find it. If he is in Spain and you happen to be there, do not miss the chance to see him.
Spain of course has its own champions of the bullring at the moment, such as Morante, Jose Tomas and Juli, but the young Mexican torero is coming on fast as their competitor. Before it is over, it is assumed he will become an international star of gigantic proportions.
So if you are in Madrid or the environs and get the chance, take a look at the “Mexican invasion by the Mexican sensation” as a fellow foreigner in the form of Diego Silveti, makes a name for himself in the land of wine, flamenco and toros.
In due time one of bullfighting’s greatest phenomenons may not be a Spaniard in the line of Manolete, Joselito or Morante, but a Mexican.