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Toro Stories Last Updated: Feb 19th, 2008 - 10:19:38

Torero Rankings Adjusted regarding Category of Plaza 2007
By Ric Polansky
Feb 19, 2008, 09:40

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Who is Spain’s TOP TORERO AND WHY !


Maybe all American's are genetically engineered to work out patterns in numbers. So many of our U.S. sports stars can be correlated to statistics that prove they are the best.


In the NFL there is a big difference in a running back that gains 1500 yards in a season and one that runs the ball similar times and only gathers 500 yards. Basketball has similar numerical standards, the best players are the ones that either score the highest points, gather the most rebounds or make the most assists. The statistics in Baseball are too innumerable to mention and play a very fundamental part in the game.


So it came to pass that one sunless day residing in the only desert in all of Europe I was confronted by visiting American friends questioning “who is the best torero in Spain?  And can it be proven statistically?”




Now we all know Spain doesn’t work that way. It’s a country ruled by passion more so than pondering.  Nevertheless, to be no. 1 ought to be something "a little bit more" than the single most fights/corridas per year.


  Studying the “escalafon” for the past years it is evident that "tremendistas” RULE.  The showman’s  tricks, the bounding or throwing the cape away are more recognizable to the masses than a really good natural by a more serious matador on a difficult bull.



Possibly it is the ostentatious exhibit of bravery that satisfies the baying public’s festive mood— but, authentic tauromaquia is certainly more than it’s largest contingent.


Some of us take witnessing a good corrida seriously and will defend late into the night our concept of what real “torero” is and why it isn’t so easily summarized.


This led me to some late night conjecture and playing with facts. It is almost impossible for an unknown matador to get invited to a first degree plaza. Likewise it is easier to cut a tail in a portable ring than receive an “ovation” in Madrid. That simple argument is the basis for the scale I have arrived at to give numerical valuation to performances strictly regarding the category of plaza. I administered a point total I thought fair for respect to the widely varying types of arenas. Here are the AWARDS:

Plazas primera:  EACH appearance in the ring = 4 points, Oreja = 4 points, Rabo  =  8 points.

2nd category plazas: Appearance = 2 points, Oreja  = 2 points, Rabo  = 4 points.

3rd category plaza: Appearance = 1 point,  Oreja = 1 point, Rabo  = 1 points.


I have purposefully left out any special scoring for the difficulty of the bull or famed ranches as although fundamentally important the bulls can vary tremendously WITHIN each ganaderia AND  the public’s discernment concerning which  ranches are the most difficult and complicated and therefore warrant higher points.


·         Indultos too have been omitted as a “toro thing” more than “torero” (although we all know that good matadors tend to bring out the best in even a bad bull).


On the left is the ranking as done by 6Toros6 and far right is the new escalafon (red) done using the above points system.




 We have a new leader, and in fact, if I am asked to take someone to their first corrida de toros …..

David Fandila is just the man to let them see and enjoy the spectacle.



Yet, he is NOT the one that the true aficionados talk about, praise or argue. The conversations I have ALWAYS had included El Juli, Ponce, Jose Tomas and Sebastian Castella.




My dilemma continues. Furthermore, if you take the top two toreros in the rankings of 6Toros6 you will sadly discover that El Cordobes derived 65% of his points from third and fourth degree plazas and El Fandi some 52%. Whereas third ranked El Cid had just 29.4% and the renowned El Juli 16.4%!  Matters get worse when you study and discover Jesulin de Ubrique garnered 59.8% of his total points and popular heart throb Fran Rivera another 59%, but that upstart Alejandro Talavante had only 19.4% in plazas of third and fourth degree; Finito 55.8% in minor plazas. The true leader was Sebastian Castella who had only .07% points from the minor echelon and veteran Enrique Ponce only 19% of his point total.


Herein the numbers statistically divide themselves and the toreros also. Matadors for the minor league scoring high but toreando prominently in the third and fourth degree plazas whereas the most notable amongst the aficionados scoring and participating in mostly first and second degree arenas. Top ratings fell to Castella then El Juli, Ponce, Talavante and el Cid. Those are your figures (omitting Jose Tomas and Morante for short seasons—but they too rank extremely high in the new system.


That in fact is how the ladder should be truly drawn up: a NEW MAJOR league created for top ranked competitors of the first and second fila/row and a separate MINOR LEAGUE rankings for corridas of a different ilk that happen in third degree plazas and fourth degree portable rings: the daring and bravado might shine and impress the howling crowd and therefore scores will be high ..... but it isn’t the “MAJORS” i.e., plazas of first or second degree.


To adjust to our changing times and the ever increasing number of corridas held often in new and unusual places a reclassification and ranking of all plazas is needed not just for Spain but for France and Portugal (where no ears are awarded). Furthermore, in the new system points should probably be given for vueltas in both first and second degree plazas as for “sword thrusts” in the moment of truth (the kill) deriving a further noted and counted proper analysis.  (I remember well two years ago in Sevilla where Ponce had a most difficult toro in which he was jeered to kill it immediately but he kept toreando and metamorphosed that beast into a bull on rails. Had he killed on the first sword that day I am sure he would

have cut a tail. He well deserved his two clamours and sincerely appreciated vueltas. (No torero worth his own dignity is going to attempt to milk out two trips around the ring without being booed if he doesn’t deserve the trip).


Yes, we should keep the old “escalafon system” for fun reading but it sincerely doesn’t connote authentic toreo. That must be left to the proper plazas that insist upon obeying the “reglamentos” and present brave and un-tampered with bulls: plazas of primera and the new second rated rings to be listed. THERE and then a true scoring list can be compiled that entwines the ancient and respected rules of tuaromaquia with that special public that likewise understands true toreo.





·        write to me if you want the complete point chart

concerning the 07 season.


 - Adventure - Business








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