Mexico City is home to Plaza de Toros Mexico, the largest bullring in the world. The first bullfight in the capital of Mexico took place on August 13th, 1529, eight years after Cortes’s conquest of the city.
Nearly three-quarters of Mexican citizens support a bullfighting ban. Bullfighting is banned in three Mexican states, but not in Mexico City. Unlike Spain, Mexico has no laws preventing children from bullfighting. In 2010, Michel “Michelito” Lagravere, then aged 12, killed a bull weighing 893 pounds in Mexico City’s Plaza de Toros. Michelito went on to become the youngest bullfighter in history to earn the title of matador.
Horses, which are ridden by mounted picadors with lances to initially confront and spear the bull, are kept blindfolded and are given padding to keep from being disemboweled. Nevertheless, horses can sustain severe injuries. Hemingway: “The tragedy [of the bullfight] is all centered in the bull and in the man. The tragic climax of the horse’s career has occurred off stage at an earlier time; when he was bought by the horse contractor for use in the bull ring.”
In 1567, Pope Pius V issued a decree against hosting or viewing a bullfight under penalty of excommunication from the Church. Due to the popularity of bullfighting in Europe, the decree was later weakened by subsequent popes.
Fighting bulls are never exposed to more than one fight, as they have good memories and become extremely dangerous if fought more than once. The horns of fighting bulls must, by Spanish custom, remain sharp, and the animals must be in good health. Bulls of the first-class rank must weigh, at minimum, 1014 lbs.
Top matadors—especially those who work internationally—can earn up to $450,000 per appearance. In 2011, there were only four professional female bullfighters in the world. Conchita Cintrón, one of the most famous female fighters, was severely gored in Mexico in 1949, but refused surgery to return to the ring, where she killed the bull that injured her.