Belmonte, Juan [key], 1892–1962, Spanish matador, b. Seville. He is generally considered the greatest matador of all time, as remarkable for the poetry of his motion in the bullring as for his speed and dexterity. He is said to have “invented” modern bullfighting with his daring, revolutionary style, which kept him almost constantly within a few inches of the bull. Between 1913 and 1936, when he finally retired (he had retired twice before, in 1922 and 1934), he was gored and slashed innumerable times. In 1919 he fought 109 corridas, a record number. His years of rivalry (1914–20) with the great Joselito, known as the Golden Age of Bullfighting, ended with Joselito's fatal goring.
See his autobiography (as told to Manuel Chaves Nogales; tr. 1937).
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