By modern standards, much of the world currently views bullfighting as a cruel bloodsport. The roots of this tradition go back thousands of years, however, to a time when humans ability to conquer the natural or animal world was considered a great thing. While this attitude can often lead to destructive or cruel practices today, it was a sign of bravery and strength back then.
It is believed that bullfighting goes all the way back to the Mesopotamia age, which dates back thousands of years before we started counting up from AD. A popular bullfighting origin tale involves the semi-mythical King of Uruk, Gilgamesh. This King was thought of as a sort of demigod, and many tales about his life have been passed down through generations. One of those tales involved Gilgamesh and associate Enkidu fighting a bull. According to the tale, the bull was far more powerful than they were, so they had to use their wits to outsmart their opponent. The myth says the two fought the bull for hours. Gilgamesh would dance in front of the bull and lure it into attacking his tunic or other brightly coloured objects. Finally, when the bull was distracted, Enkidu stabbed the bull with his sword.
Now, thousands of years later, similar battles still take place. The humans don't always win these battles, however. This article focuses the spotlight on the times in which the bull bested their human counterpart.
15 Bulls Win "World Series of BullFighting"!!
Ernest Hemingway dubbed the "Fiesta de San Isidro" in Madrid the "World Series of Bullfighting". Hemingway was not a fan of the sport. After being forced to cover one such event, he publicly stated that the tragedy of this sport was that the bull dies in the end.
Thus, when a bull wins a bullfight it can be seen as a "pre-emptive revenge" for what their human rivals plan on doing to them later.
In 2014, the World Series of Bullfighting was won by the bulls! Two bulls gored three matadors, one of whom required major surgery. The event took place in front of 24,000 live spectators. With three matadors out of commission, organizers were forced to cancel the rest of the bullfighting, even though there were still four bulls left to fight.
14 Bull Almost Obliterates Matador, Destroys Pants Instead
This matador is badly gored in the leg and could have been in serious trouble. Audible gasps can be heard from the crowd, but not from the person operating the camera. That person can be heard engaging in uncontrollable laughter because the bull had split open the matador's pants.
The laughing continued while the bull was still charging at the matador. Sure, the guy could have been seriously injured, but his pants were ripped and that's funny!
In this case, the matador was gored and the bull kept at him, as the his rather unhelpful colleagues have trouble drawing the bull's attention away from the wardrobe-malfunctioning bull fighter. Considering the amount of matadors who have been killed by bulls over the year, it's pretty interesting that one being gored could be viewed in such a lighthearted manner, but there it is.
13 Bull Wins in Northern Spain
Miguel Ruiz Perez was not a matador, but nobody told the bull that. Sadly, Perez was the 4th person to die in a three-day period in the summer of 2015. He was a soldier in the Spanish military, and a simple slip and fall during this festival cost him his life.
This tragedy occurred in Navarra, Spain, but amazingly, the festival continued, even after the 4th confirmed fatality. Perez was gored in the abdomen after being unable to get away from the bull. He was taken to ambulance but did not survive his injuries.
Perez had no brightly coloured clothing, and his only job was to avoid the bull at all costs. Unfortunately, this can be harder that it sounds sometimes. Those unable to dodge the bull get the horns, and that can be fatal.
12 The "Ronaldo" of Bulls Defeats Portuguese Matadors
Either these matadors had no idea what they were doing, or this bull happened to be the Ronaldo of bullfighting. Sadly, when a bull wins a bullfight they are usually put to death. While this is done to protect future matadors from particularly aggressive or intelligent bulls, it takes all of the sport out of it for the non-human competitors in the bullfighting arena.
It would be great to see how this bull adapted his strategies, and became even better at fighting humans if he was allowed to live long enough to compete multiple times. As seen in this video below, this bull is particularly adept at fighting humans.
At first the bull seems as though it's not quite sure how to approach their predicament. Then finally the bull just decides to charge forward, taking as many matadors as possible along the way.
11 You Are Supposed To Dodge The Bull, Sir
This video is from a charity rodeo to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. The charity provides support for military personnel who were injured and require financial and/or physical assistance.
Unfortunately, while the organizers of this charity benefit had good intentions at heart, they ended up creating a few more wounds when the bull they brought in from Mexico gored this poor guy up against the fence. The MC for the evening continued to narrate what was going on during this potentially serious event. He then asked everyone if they enjoyed the bullfighting, and strangely enough this garnered cheers from the crowd, though probably not from friends and family of the downed bullfighter. The narrator's chipperness didn't quite align with the serious condition of the bullfighter, but hey, he had a job to do.
10 Victor Barrio Killed In Spain
Victor Barrio was the first Spanish bullfighter, not including banderilleros, to be killed in a bullfight since 1985. He was killed last summer, July 9th 2016, in Teruel, Spain. His death was broadcast on live television.
Experts would eventually conclude that a gust of wind blew Barrio's cape, allowing the bull an opportunity to strike. Sadly, the bull, named Lorenzo, gored Barrio in the chest, piercing his lungs and thoracic aorta with its horns. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a local medical facility.
Unlike in the previous examples, the rest of the festivities were cancelled after the 29-year old succumbed to his injuries.
The death was a highly publicized story in Spain, with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy even paying tribute to the fallen bullfighter.
9 Bullfighting On the Island
The small island of Terceira is home to under 60,000 people, but they still love to have bull fights! Since the 16th century this island has been holding the Touradas à corda. Basically it is the same as the running of the bulls, but the bull is on a rope.
What's impressive about the bulls in this video is that they are not afraid to go after people who are just standing by watching. If there aren't people running around them, they will just jump over fences and find some people to gore.
Skip to 2:58 in the video above to see what happens when you taunt a bull behind the "safety" of a fence. That poor guy thought he was completely safe doing what he was doing...
8 Bull Run Causes Human Stampede
This video is from the Pamplona Bull Run in 2013, where 23 people were injured. Those who weren't injured by the bulls themselves were victims of trampling or being crushed in the human stampede.
These types of injuries can occur anywhere where large groups of people gather, such as sporting events. The risk for such an event to occur is increased with bull runs as massive groups of people often change direction at a moments notice.
In the case here, a group of bulls charged down a narrow lane towards the bull ring. The bulls were side by side and travelling fast, giving people little time to get out of the way. The hysteria from so many people trying to get out of the way was the main cause of injury at this event, but the bulls did manage to cause a few injuries themselves.
7 Bulls Refer To It As The "Chasing Of The Humans"
We stay with the Pamplona festival for this one. This was on the 6th day of the event in 2013, and the bulls were feisty. Several people were taken to hospital on this day, though the hospital would say none were considered seriously injured. The hospital would also say they removed a patient's spleen after it had been punctured by the bull's horn. That somehow, did not qualify as a serious injury in the hospital's opinion.
Not to make light of the poor man in this video who starts to get gored at about the 29-second mark of this video, but why is it the people being gored so often lose their pants? I get that the bull is flailing them around and everything, but still, if you are going to a bull fight, maybe wear a belt or something.
6 Give It Up, The Bull Is Better Than You
"If at first you don't succeed, try try again" is terrible advice to give bull fighters. Better advice might be: "If at first you don't succeed, and you're a bullfighter, you might be dead. So don't go into bullfighting."
After the bull flips this guy the first time, he is picked up by several people and totally brushes the whole thing off as no big deal. You can seem him physically communicating something along the lines of "It's no big deal guys, I'm totally fine!". So then he lines up to do it all over again, and what happens? He gets mauled even worse! The second time he just lets everyone help get him to safety, and one has to assume that was the last time he fought a bull.
You have to give it up for this guy's bravery, but his intelligence here was questionable.
5 Bull Run Selfie Costs Man Life
There are lots of things worth risking your life over, selfies are not one of them, however.
This guy not only risked, but lost his life, trying to grab a selfie. The guy was 32 as well, which is past the age that you should be risking your life for a selfie. Not that anyone at any age should be risking their life for selfies, but when it's high school kids you can at least chalk it up to them not knowing any better. This guy knew better.
Selfies kill more than just fans of bull-fighting. They are now saying that selfies kill more people a year than sharks. That also means they kill more people a year than bulls. So the dangerous thing the guy in this video did was take a selfie, not go running with bulls.
4 Bull Goes After World's Worst Lancer
The bull in this video goes after a man on horseback. For the horse's protection it is covered in what is called a "peto". It's basically a thick protective layer to protect the horse from the bull's horns. The bullfighters don't wear such a layer, however, as that would make them look silly.
The bull in this video is very determined to tip this horse over, you have to give it to him for finally being able to do so. The guy riding the horse is called a "lancer." His job is to use his lance to guide the bull to where it should or should not go. This guy was a very poor lancer, and perhaps the bull knew that.
The one matador who finally managed to get the bull's attention away from the lancer probably saved his life.
3 Bull First Doesn't Care, Then Wins Bull Fight
This video is from a rodeo in North Carolina, where a very uninterested bull is repeatedly tempted with an American flag-themed barrel.
You can skip through the first couple of minutes of the video, it's basically some guys trying to bait the bull into doing anything the restless crowd might find entertaining. Finally around the 3:00 mark, one guy figures he can make himself seem real cool if he throws his hat at the bull. He would later try just clapping in the bull's direction. Unfortunately he doesn't get gored.
At about four minutes into the video, the bull decides it's on. All of a sudden a very determined look comes over its face, as if the time has come to let these rodeo punks know who's boss. The bull clears house and nobody is seriously hurt. Go bull!
2 Bullfighters Gored While Green Day Serenades
This is from a bull fight in France, where I can only assume the matadors weren't quite as experienced as they are in Spain. They are quite athletic, and did some impressive jumps over the bulls, they also managed to get themselves gored several times. Generally, not being gored seems like it should be the top priority of a bull fighter.
Also interesting about this video is that it is all set to Green Day music. You wouldn't think Green Day and bull fighting would work well together, but for whatever reason it works in this case.
Bullfighting is a controversial issue in France, having been on the country's cultural heritage list until 2015. The removal of bull-fighting from the list was a huge victory for animal rights advocates in the country.
1 Barack Obama Bull & Mitt Romney Bull Face Each Other
Yes, this actually did happen. In Kenya, leading up to the 2012 US Presidential Election, someone said "I have a good idea! Let's get 2 bulls, we will name one Barack Obama, and the other Mitt Romney, and then we'll have 'em fight!"
Everyone was so impressed with this person's idea that they decided to actually go through with it! Obama would win the bull fight and then the election.
Judging by the size of the crowd that attended this monumental event, it is clear this was a big deal locally. The singing, chanting and jubilation from the live crowd for this bullfight actually makes it seem like the go-to sporting event of the year!
One can only dream that someday political elections are conducted in as civilized a manner as this Kenyan bull fight.