Video: The thrill of the Huamantlada

Watch last weekend’s festivities in Huamantla, Mexico in which 23 people were injured trying to challenge 500-kilo bulls.

Filming bullfights is not worth dying for

The Huamantlada pits man against beast in potentially disastrous circumstances. The annual event, which takes place in the otherwise sleepy town of Huamantla in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, saw 24 bulls let loose in the town’s narrow, uneven streets to be confronted by locals and visitors alike – many of which had been drinking since early in the morning on what was a scorching hot day.

My loyal readers may remember the Huamantlada from last year – the film we made has proved one of our most watched and the coverage was one of the earliest missions of – then known as Well, this year I was back – for the Los Angeles Times this time around – and I wanted to apply my new video training to the event which had proved entertaining 12 months ago, although a little hard to watch. One man had died and there were 24 injuries during the 2007 event. Continue reading

Amateur bullfighting festival in Mexico ends with 23 injuries


More than 20 people were gored or injured by bulls this weekend in Huamantla in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala after taking on one of the 24 bulls let loose into the streets as part of an annual festival.

The Huamantlada, which is often compared to the running of the bulls event in Pamplona, takes place every year in this small rural town. The comparison to the event in Spain is inaccurate – the bulls didn’t run anywhere. The town’s 17 central streets were transformed into huge pens for the half-ton animals, which were mercilessly taunted by the crowd and pelted with plastic bottles and beer cans.

Many of the men who challenged the bulls, matador-style, knew what they were doing and approached the animals with caution and capes. But many didn’t. The combination of alcohol, a screaming crowd and poor judgment was too much: 23 people ended up being carried away on stretchers by the Red Cross. Continue reading

One Man Dies and 24 are Injured in Huamantla’s Amateur Bullfighting Festival

One man died and 24 people, including one women, were injured in Huamantla’s amateur bullfighting festival in Mexico this weekend.

Each year, the small town of Huamantla in the state of Tlaxcala celebrates the day of the Virgin Mary by creating brightly-coloured designs and draping the streets in colour. But it’s the amateur bull-fighting event that follows the solemn religious procession rather than the local craftsmanship which makes the headlines.

Thousands of Mexicans – both locals and tourists – flock to the town either to sit in the stalls and watch their fellow country-men tempt death, or to challenge the bulls themselves.

The smell of wet paint is still in the air from the wooden hoardings which were erected the night before to protect the crowds from the marauding bulls, two of which are let into each of 18 streets in the town. Entire families from old men and women through to tiny babies made themselves comfortable before the spectacle began and paid for prime position.

Street vendors paced along the outside of the hoardings selling umbrellas to keep off the sun, nuts, soft drinks, ice-cream souvenir T-shirts, sweets, hats and fake, fuzzy bull’s horns.

Next to me, a couple of young men discussed some business matters as they supped from enormous, special edition bottles of Sol, one of the sponsors of this annual event. The heady mix of alcohol, hot sun and adrenalin creates a dangerous environment in which it’s very easy for things to go badly wrong, and many of the young men and women milling around in the midday sun are already drunk.

Suddenly a scream goes up, and the bulls are upon us – or so it feels. It’s the first time your humble correspondent has been so close to a 500 kilo, angry panting bull that is being mercilessly taunted by the frantic crowd, and with every pass its sweaty flanks brushed against the wooden hoardings – 50 cm between me and certain death.

The black beauty began by pacing the road, sizing up its adversaries. As it trotted along the side of the hoardings, people standing in the road scattered in every direction, some of them leaping onto the hoardings, others finding tiny gaps to squeeze through in the wooden barriers to get themselves out of harm’s way.

Taunters are all around – every man and his wife screamed at the animal as it stood bewildered and sweaty in the centre of the road. The first serious adversary arrived, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt sporting a silhouette of a proudly standing toro. He dragged his feet behind him in the dusty road as he eyed his challenger, the bull switching his eyes from the solitary Mexican to the crowd and back again – unsure of who to focus on.

The aspiring matador opened his old, dusky pink cloak – probably passed down to him from a former glorious matador family member, or perhaps picked up in a junk shop – and the battle begins. The bull, already tired from running, plunged for the cloak and the Mexican matador moved graceful to the side. This exchange went on for some time, the bull alternating his attention between his adversary and the maddening crowd.

Finally, in an act of triumph, the Mexican kneels whilst making eye-contact with the enormous animal standing before him, reaching out and to the side to touch the tip of the bull’s horn before retreating in victory.

He will live to boast the tale – others won’t be so lucky.