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San Isidro Home of Bloodless Bull Fights

Bullfighter Rocio Moreli with two roses after confronting a 1,000-pound bull. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Some countries have bullfights in which a matador ends his presentation taking a bull down with a sword but such sporting events have been under the scope of animal lovers to the point of pushing the tradition on the verge of extinction.

But here in San Isidro, a small community is eastern Star County off FM 1017, there is probably what some people consider to be the nation’s only bull ring in which male and female bullfighters confront a charging beast weighing about 1,000 pounds.

It’s called the Santa Maria Bullring, an arena Fred Renk opened about 20 years ago with the goal of preserving the ancient tradition but without making the animals suffer before they are taken down.
Hence, he named the shows bloodless bullfights.

Bullfighter after bullfighter goes into the arena and put their skills to test for about 30 minutes.
Some of them experience close calls as happened during a Sunday, Feb. 10 show after bullfighter Daniel Ayala got bumped on the left shoulder by a charging bull.

Renk, a former bullfighter himself, said he never knows what is going to happen during a fight.

His stepson, David, was a professional bullfighter known as El Texano who died last year.

Renk, who now is 82 years old, decided to open the arena back in 2002 to educate area students about the sport and to preserve the tradition.

His shows, usually held during the months of January and February, are highly attended by Winter Texans.

An average of six bullfights are held each season.

This time, however, he has decided not to have the last two as the weather has been taking a toll on him.

“I have been postponing the shows on and off on account of bad weather,” he said. “Some of the people planning to attend don’t show up after you do that.”

For instance, about half of the covered seating booked for the Saturday, Feb. 9 were empty during Sunday’s Feb. 10 performance.

But for some of the attendees such as Penny Fligg of Canada and Veronica Ontiveros of McAllen, the bullfight was much better than they had expected.

“This is our first time here,” Fligg said. “We really enjoyed it.”

The show featured three male fighters – Manolo Martinez, Daniel Ayala and Paulo Campero – and a woman – Rocio Moreli of Colombia, South America.

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