Juan Belmonte - Killer of Bulls


As spring nears the smell of bulls is thick and my mind becomes fixated on all things Toreo. Arguably one of the most famous and important Matador's in history, Juan Belmonte perfected the art during the Golden Age of Bullfighting. His technique revolutionized the way modern Torero's fight a bull. Close to the horns, motionless in the stance and always in danger of being gored.

But what intrigues me about Belmonte almost as much was his close relationship to Ernest Hemingway and the similarity in their deaths.

Excerpt below from Wikipedia

During his bullfighting career he received 24 serious wounds and 'countless minor ones'. He later developed a grave heart condition, identified by a Madrid specialist who advised him to 'go easy' and to stop riding , an instruction that he initially took to heart but, in the last spring of his life, disobeyed in order to ride his favourite horse, Maravilla, on the ranch with his son. Shortly before his death he learned that he had lung cancer. After a final morning ride, he returned home to his ranch house, took his 6.35mm pistol from a drawer in his study and shot himself. He died within a week of his 70th birthday. Berman and Wallace suggest that this may have been a 'copycat suicide'; on hearing of his friend Hemingway's suicide in 1961, Belmonte is said to have answered 'Well done.'

The circumstances surrounding his death are the source of some controversy. A popular version, seen for example in Life, describes events substantially as follows: when Belmonte's doctor told him that, because of his lifelong injuries and trauma, he could no longer smoke cigars, ride his horses, drink wine or perform sexual acts with women, he decided he was ready to die. He ordered his favorite horse brought to him, took a handful of cigars, two bottles of his favorite wine and rode out to his finca where he was met by two of Sevilla's "women of the night."He smoked his cigars and drank his wine, engaging one more time in his final passions, took his pistol and shot himself. He had told others prior to his last day that if he could not live like a man he would at least die like one.

'Well Done'

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