Jews In Sports: Exhibit Page @ Virtual Museum

Harold U. Ribalow and Meir Z. Ribalow
Page 375 of 457

Jews In American Sports


Sidney Franklin

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