Beauties and the beasts: A look at some of Spain’s female bullfighters

By Livia Cockerell

AN exclusive Olive Press interview with Miriam Cabas, a 20-year-old veterinary student from the small town of Los Barrios across the bay from Gibraltar in southwestern Spain revealed why she led a ’second life’ as a bullfighter.

But she is not the first woman to infiltrate the macho world of bullfights – the Olive Press takes a look at some of Miriam’s predecessors

Lea Vicens

Corrida De Bayonne
Lea Vicens. Photo: Sportsvision/SIPA/Cordon Press

Lea Vicens was 20 years old when she watched her first bullfight in Plaza de Nimes, a fight which ignited a passion that completely changed the course of her life. At the time, she was studying biology in France at the Universidad de Montpellier. However, just two days after receiving her diploma, she moved to Spain and was set to become one of the most successful rejoneadoras of the modern day.

Unlike traditional matadoras, rejoneadoras are mounted on horseback. Vicens claims to have always felt a connection with horses, having ridden since the age of four. However, a career as a rejoneadora was never something that had been on the cards. “When I was young, I did not like bulls. But when I grew up I saw it as cultural and historical. I was excited by it. I fell in love with it.”

Feria De Dax Corrida De Rejon
Lea Vicens. Photo: Sportsvision/SIPA/Cordon Press

Vicens worked her way up from the bottom. She began working as a horse tamer for rejoneador Angel Peralta who advised her that within the world of tauromaquia, if you are not born into money, you must be prepared to start from scratch.

In 2008, she had saved enough to buy a €6,000 colt named Gacela. After much hard graft and training, she made her 2010 debut in Plaza de Olmedo.

Feria De Dax Corrida De Rejon
Lea Vicens. Photo: Sportsvision/SIPA/Cordon Press

Her success ever since is irrefutable. In spite of this, she continues to train for 10 hours a day in her ranch in Sevilla, a sight that has become a tourist attraction for tauromaquia fanatics.

Cristina Sanchez

Los Toreros Se Unen Para Hablar Sobre El Problema De La Tauromaquia En Tiempos De Pandemia En Madrid
Cristina Sanchez. Photo: Quilez/Cordon Press

Madrid-born Cristina Sanchez is considered a feminist icon within the world of tauromaquia. As the first woman in Europe to complete her alternativa (the official graduation of a bullfighter), her career boomed throughout the nineties until she retired in 1999.

Conchi Rios

Conchi Rios Bullfightingwikipedia Cc
Conchi Rios: Photo Creative Commons via Wikipedia.

Rios is most renowned for being the first ever woman to take both ears of a bull during a fight. Since her debut in 2007, Rios’ career has flourished and in 2016, she was chosen as one of the BBC’s 100 Women. 

Mari Paz Vega

Mary Paz Vega Cc Wikimedia
Mari Paz Vega. Photo: Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Award-winning Mari Paz Vega has had an extensive career as a Spanish torera spanning over 20 years. During this time, she has been recognised with many victories and honours, including the Trofeo al Mejor Toreo in Malaga, 2005.

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