Last fall, one of Spain’s greatest matadors took a horn to the face. It was a brutal goring, among the most horrific in the history of bullfighting. Miraculously, Juan Jose Padilla was back in the bullring—sí, fighting bulls—a mere five months later. And in the process of losing half his sight, he somehow managed to double his vision.
There is the physical pain, which the doctors reduce with morphine, and then there is the terror. They’re telling him he might never again wear his “suit of lights.” Never stand before another bull. If he can’t return to a plaza, he’ll be exiled from his life. Evicted from his own skin.
In his hospital room, as soon as he can move again, he begins to rehearse bullfighting moves with the sheets. And on October 19, less than two weeks after the accident, he gives a press conference in a wheelchair with his face uncovered.
“I have no rancor toward this bull or toward my profession,” he slurs into the mike. He makes the following pledge: “I will return to dress as a torero.”