The Last Arena
Even against the massive press and funding surrounding the Olympic Games in London, Álvaro Múnera Builes is sweeping headlines around the world in the controversial but culturally significant sport of Bullfighting. A photo shows Munera with accounts that he collapsed in remorse mid-fight when he realized he was having to prompt this otherwise gentle beast to fight. He went on to become an avid opponent of bullfights. Even grievously wounded, the bull did not attack Munera.It is truly touching to find stories like this because it inspires others to create the choices that help our community and environment. The story pulls at our core values so we got very interested in promoting it and learning more, but as we researched the story further it began to fall apart and the photo would seem to be staged with a made up story.
Here’s what we found…
As a youth Builes fought as a novillero, a ’novice bullfighter’, under the name ‘El Pilarico’ in Colombia and then Spain. In 1984 a bull called ‘Terciopelo’, from the breed of Marqués de Villagodio, caught him in the foot and tossed him across the ring, fracturing the fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck which rendered him him permanently paraplegic along with other injuries.
Well I guess it is good that there are more of ‘them’ and I hope even though the photo is not what it seems the ideas it instills are a value helps our communities and the environment. Its important to care about the welfare of animals and conduct your own actions in a way that takes responsibility and ownership for the world around you.
I know this story sounds negative. You may think he got what was coming to him, that’s karma, shows him, but sometimes it does take something big to open your eyes on an issue. Think of the things you do in your daily life which someone less fortunate say you waste food, water, energy or some other skepticism. The world isn’t perfect, but its great to see a stride towards sustainability and a world with better health, humanitarian, and educational priorities.
Think of the story this way… Alvaro Munera battled bulls before cheering audiences for 6 years. Then, at the age of 18, a fight turned against him, and he lost the use of his legs. Soon after this tragic event, his closest friend died from bullfighting injuries.
These experiences did not make Munera bitter. Now 43, he has devoted his life to rescuing animals in his hometown of Medellin, Columbia, and speaking out against the blood sport that was once his passion. He is joining Humane Society International in January to tackle Mexico’s bullfighting industry.
This will be the first time an ex-bullfighter has come to Mexico to speak up for the rights of animals. His visit will hopefully reinforce the ethics of the new generations, and it will mean invaluable support for legislators who are against bullfighting. So although the photo may be fake and the story isn’t true, its important to remember that everyone can make a difference.
In a 2008 interview, Munera expressed that his conversion to an anti-bullfighting animal rights defender did not occur at any one moment in the ring, but was part of an ongoing process that began before, and extended after, the accident that ended his career:
Q: Did you ever think of quitting bullfighting before that bull confined you to a wheelchair?
A: Yes, there were several critical moments. Once I killed a pregnant heifer… The scene was so terrible that I puked and started to cry. I wanted to quit right there but my manager gave me a pat on my back and said I shouldn’t worry…scenes like that were a normal thing to see in this profession. I’m sorry to say that I missed that first opportunity to stop. I was 14 and didn’t have enough common sense. Some time later, in an indoor fight, I had to stick my sword in five or six times to kill a bull…This cuased a very strong impression on me, and yet again I decided it wasn’t the life for me. But my travel to Spain was already arranged, so I crossed the Atlantic. Then came the third chance, the definitive one. It was like God thought, “If this guy doesn’t want to listen to reason, he’ll have to learn the hard way.” And of course I learned.
Q: What was the decisive factor that made you an animal-rights defender?
A: *When I went to the U.S. (for medical treatment)… I had to face an antitaurine society that cannot conceive how another society can allow the torture and murder of animals. It was my fellow students (patients), the doctors, nurses, other physically disabled people, my friends…girlfriend, and the aunt of my friends, who said I deserved what happened to me. Their arguments were so solid that I had to accept that it was me who was wrong and that the 99 percent of the human race who are firmly against this sad and cruel form of entertainment were totally right…
Its how we conduct ourselves when it feels like the odds are against us that make us stronger than the morals we can push on others when we have the luxury to find answers.
You may not want to read further…
Our show remains positive and we look to encourage environmental advocacy by showing all the awesome aspects of the world around us, but while we began on such a high note for researching this bullfighting story it kind of got us in a dark place that if your a big animal lover may not want to hear.
The word Bullfighting derives from the English word for the old hobby of bull-baiting with dogs. A bull was tied to an iron stake so that it could move in an area of about 30 feet. The object of the sport was for the dogs to immobilise the bull.Before it started, the bull’s nose might have been blown full of pepper to enrage the animal before the baiting. The bull was often placed in a hole in the ground. A variant of bull-baiting was “pinning the bull”, where specially-trained dogs would be set upon the bull one at a time, a successful attack resulting in the dog fastening his teeth strongly in the bull’s snout. The bulldog was bred especially for this sport.
A Bill for the suppression of the practice was introduced into the British House of Commons in 1802, but was defeated by 13 votes, and it was not until the year 1835 that it was finally put down by Act of Parliament, called the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, which forbade the keeping of any house, pit, or other place for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, dog, or other animal.
The idea of bullfighting, dog fighting, rooster fights and all of these acts of cruelty and inhumanity are enraging, but there are ways to make a difference and help take action.
Catalonia Bans Bullfighting Lawmakers in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting, dealing the most significant blow so far to a tradition considered by many Spaniards to be an essential part of their cultural patrimony.
The Last Arena Personal blog on a trip to Pamplona.
Snopes.com – Alvaro Munera Factchecking website, tagline: Rumor has it…
End Dogfighting Preventing dogfighting by strengthening bonds between people and dogs.
Give Roosters Something to Crow About End Cockfighting.
Written by Ronnie Das
Special Thanks to Andy Gonzalez for originally sharing this photo and helping with the research to find out the full story.