by Staff Reporter
THE Palma bullring, known as the Coliseo Balear, this year celebrates its 74th anniversary.
It was built thanks to the efforts of José Tous i Ferrer, founder of the Bulletin's stablemat, Ultima Hora and is considered one of the finest bullrings in Spain. Tous y Ferrer wanted his home town wanted an arena dedicated to Spain's national fiesta, equal in stature to any bullring elsewhere in the world.
The year 1929 passed into history having witnessed two very different events: the inauguration of the new bullring and the death, in Inca of the ill-fated bullfighter, Ángel C. (Carratalà) during a novillada, a bullfight for novices. In those days, the land on which the Palma bullring is built dominated the area known as “Son Bruy”.
The construction of the bullring was the brainchild of the land's owner, José Tous i Ferrer. He entrusted the project to the Majorcan architect D. Gaspar Benassar Mone who drew up the plans. The building was started using the skills of 80 workmen, but later in its development, 300 were involved. Those on the job included labourers, carpinters, locksmiths, painters, etc. The official constructors were Antonio Balaguer and Sebastián Crespí. The bullring covered an area of 11'000 square metres. The arena has a diameter of 47 metres and has capacity for nearly 14'000 spectators. The whole building is made out of blocks of stone from Majorcan quarries. The first manager of the bullring was Gabriel Tarongí, who prepared a fine programme for the grand opening.
The date was 21 July of 1929 at 5.15pm, with two bulls from the stock of Leopoldo Abente, to be fought by the rejoneador (bullfighter on horseback) Antonio Cañero; and six bulls from the stock of Pablo Romero, for the then prestigious bullfighting figures of Antonio Márquez, Nicanor Villalta and Félix Rodriguez. When the animals were being transferred to their enclosures at the bullring, two of them charged at each other resulting in the death of one of them, and the remaining bull was rendered useless for fighting. The matadors were dressed as follows: Antonio Márquez in pearl and jet; Nicanor Villalta in scarlet and gold; and Félix Rodríguez in tobacco brown and gold. The protagonists of such a sensational bullfight were paid as follows: Cañero, 6'000 pesetas, Márquez 8'000, Villalta 7'000 and Rodríguez 6'500.
The bulls, including the transportation costs, were paid for in the following sums: the six belonging to Pablo Romero, 16'000 pesetas; those of Abente, 4'500 and substitutes belonging to González, the same figure of 4'500 pesetas. Charges for entry to the bullfight started at 40 pesetas for the front row in the sade, dcreasing to nine pesetas at the furthermost part of the arena. In the Sun, prizes ranged from dive pesetas (standing at the back) to ten pesetas in the front row.

There were two ceremonies awarding the status of fully-fledged bullfighter to novices, both the recipients were Majorcan. On 31 July of 1931, six bulls from the stock of Miura, were challenged by Fuentes Bejarano, Manol Martínez and Melchor Delmonte, who received the accolade. Gabriel Pericás, younger brother of the bullfighter Jaime Pericás, received the accolade from the hands of his kinsman on 5 June, 1949 in the presence of Antonio Caro. Referring to the large number of novice bullfights that took place in the Palma bullring, it is worth mentioning that Majorcan native Quinito Caldentey, famous bullfighting critic and painter, and Jaume Pericás triumphed. Quinito Caldentey appeared for the last time in novice bullfights with picadors on 23 August of 1942. Young bulls of the stock of Pinohermoso were confronted by Juan Mari Pérez Tabernero, Quinito Caldentey and Gallito Chico. Jaime Pericás appeared himself for the first time with picadors on 21 August of 1952. That afternoon was a tremendous triumph for a man that was soon to become an elegant matador.


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