Obituary: Dominguin

Others have written about the public part of Luis Miguel Dominguin's fame - as a rich and celebrated torero, married to a star, friend of the famous and the powerful, from Picasso to Franco; pick a cliche and you could hardly go wrong, writes Keith Botsford [further to the obituary by Liz Nash, 9 May].

That life, part "creation", part publicity, part pure fantasy, existed; it was also only a small part of the man. I knew him, I think, rather better than most; he was my fourth son's godfather and I wrote a book about him, 24 years ago now. That is, he and I sat in the Hotel Suecia in Madrid, and at his finca in Andalucia, for some weeks, and he talked and I listened.

I had never met an athlete then, nor one since, who could come close to his innate intelligence. In that sense, the fact that he was a bullfighter was an anomaly, for he could have been anything. But a very fine bullfighter he was: precisely because he was intelligent, and innocent and passionate, and respectful of his adversary who was an animal, in the same way that Luis Miguel could be, a creature of instinct with a deep desire to survive.

He was certainly the best tor-ero I saw in the ring in some 40 years. It was like watching a seduction, a deadly flirtation; the risk appalled him and it appealed to him: "Man and bull and public assemble in one place for one purpose: to see the bull killed. The arena is the place in which we are all going to be judged." And of course only one can come out alive. That is drama of an antic kind, and Luis Miguel exploited it better than any other fighter I saw.

Not only was he brave, he was also knowing, and could make connections. Next door to the hotel the Madrid Opera chorus was rehearsing Don Giovanni; over and over again they sang "Viva, viva, viva la liberta". Luis Miguel sat on the end of the bed, shoeless: "Every wound I bear is inscribed with the name of a woman," he said. "The bulls knew, they knew that on the day I was a loser, I was thinking about something else, and the bulls were jealous. I wasn't paying them the attention they thought they deserved, and they got me for it."

I don't think Luis Miguel liked writing the book: he felt he was giving something away. At the same time, it was an opportunity to think about his life.

When he broke up with the lovely Lucia, it was because she had put a house around his free soul. A house that had marble and a big bedroom and baths, from which he would flee to sleep in a hut outside. Anything that had to be done was a constraint. Constraints were bad, they were obligations, and when he saw a constraint, he fled.

I asked him once if he regretted anything in his life and he answered - a maxim from which I have learned much - que no hay errores en la vida, "that there are no mistakes in life". That one has lived the life one had to live as well as one could.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible