For Matadora, Bullfighting Is Her 'Absolute Truth' Last Sunday, a 32-year-old bullfighter named Lupita Lopez appeared in Mexico City's Plaza Mexico — the largest bullring in the world — and was inducted into the tiny sorority of matadoras, or professional female bullfighters. Lopez has wanted to be a bullfighter since she was 11.
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For Matadora, Bullfighting Is Her 'Absolute Truth'

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For Matadora, Bullfighting Is Her 'Absolute Truth'

For Matadora, Bullfighting Is Her 'Absolute Truth'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR's John Burnett caught up with her last month at a bullring in south Texas.


JOHN BURNETT: Deep in the thornbrush country north of McAllen, there's a bull ranch called La Querencia. The owner is a burly, 74-year-old, former amateur bullfighter who swaggers about and wears his guayabera shirt open at the top, macho style.

M: (Unintelligible).

BURNETT: In the afternoons, you can find him here in his cantina, listening to Spanish guitars, enjoying a beer buzz, and talking up Mexico's hottest new lady bullfighter: Lupita Lopez.

M: She's going to be great. She's got this quality, and this desire to burn and create art. You'll see it tomorrow.

BURNETT: Fred Renk is her patron in the style of benefactors who help aspiring boxers and opera singers to get a start. He and his friends put up $10,000 for her sword, cape and intricately embroidered suit.

M: We just took her on, and we helped her. She fights, and she fights well.

BURNETT: And she draws. On this weekend, he has promoted her appearance here at his bullring as the Mayan Princess.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

BURNETT: She will not talk of animal cruelty. Bullfighting is a medieval entertainment, but it remains a cultural fixture in some Latin American and European countries as it is in her own family.

M: (Through Translator) I come from a family of bullfighters - from my great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and cousins. And so coming from this family, obviously, from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, we talk about bulls.

BURNETT: Growing up on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Lopez decided she wanted to be a bullfighter when she was 11. During her long apprenticeship, she faced the challenges of a young woman entering the quintessentially male domain of bulls.

M: (Through Translator) When I'm traveling alone, there are men who think that a female bullfighter is an easy woman, and promoters who think because they put me on a bill, that I have to sleep with them. I really think being a woman is an obstacle.

BURNETT: Why does she do it?

M: (Foreign language spoken)

BURNETT: On the weekend we visited Fred Renk's ranch, she will not conclude the fight by killing the toro bravo - the brave bull - with a sword, as is customary. It's against the law. She'll be fighting and testing vacas bravas - brave cows - to see if they have the valor to be returned to the pasture and bred with a fighting bull.


BURNETT: Ranch hands goad the skittish heifers into a chute, where David Renk, Fred's son and a former matador himself, leans down and glues a plastic flower onto their black hides.

M: You know, they have to go and take this off from the back of the animal to simulate the kill of the bull.

BURNETT: The stands fill up with tourists in caps and sunglasses, most of whom know nothing of the precision and danger of what they're about to witness.

BURNETT: We're waiting on Lupita Lopez, you guys, and...

BURNETT: Finally, she strides into the bullring in her blue and gold suit, a long braid falling down her back.

SIEGEL: The spirited young cows charge and jab with their sharp horns, just like their brothers.

M: (Foreign language spoken)


BURNETT: John Burnett, NPR News.

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