Bullfighter from Flatbush
"Of course I like bullfighting immensely, and feel a kind of
voluptuous pleasure in fighting quietly, seeing the danger close at hand. I would not
change that for any other sensation in life."
The speaker was Sidney Franklin, a thin, studious Jewish boy from
Brooklyn, who became one of the topflight athletes in one of the most dangerous,
spectacular and cruel sports in the world - bullfighting.
Always considered a Latin sport, bullfighting is curiously un-American.
It is a colorful sport, the national pastime of Spain and Mexico. Champion bullfights in
these lands are worshipped by excitable and noisy fans. Men like Juan Belmonte become
legends and their feats are related in song and story. They make fortunes. Belmonte used
to get $7,000 for a single performance in the bull ring and a smart bullfighter, if he
promoted his own shows, sometimes made as much as $40,000 in a single afternoon. For
example, Belmonte, about whom lyrical books of praise have been written, made more money
in his career than Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney combined. Rodolfo Gaona, the star matador
in Mexico, made four million dollars in six years. This is enough to indicate the hold of
the sport on millions of people. But bullfighting has fascinated many Americans as well.
Ernest Hemingway, the famous