Farewell to Jaime ‘Heart of the Lion’
The bullfighter Jaime Ostos, who suffered many and very serious mishaps throughout his career, has died of a heart attack in Bogotá at the age of 90.
In the fifties and sixties, he was a leading figure in bullfighting, alternating with Litri and Antonio Ordóñez (his godfather and his alternative witness), Luis Miguel Dominguín, Antonio Bienvenida, Aparicio, Manolo Vázquez, El Viti, Paco Camino .. Having competed at this level shows his status as a classic bullfighter, of enormous value, and formidable rapier.
He was born in Écija (Seville), on April 8, 1933. At the age of twenty, he made his debut as a bullfighter with picadors in Osuna. In that first stage, he rivaled his countryman Bartolomé Jiménez Torres: two styles, two temperaments and even two very different social origins.
As Jaime recalled, «my case is a bit particular: in my town they called me the young bullfighter because I was from a wealthy family. I had a great hobby, nothing more ». I remember very well that this rivalry reached its debut in Las Ventas, in the novilladas on Thursdays.
The triumphs led him to take the alternative in Zaragoza, on October 13, 1956. He confirmed it on May 13, 1958, at the hands of Antonio Bienvenida, with Gregorio Sánchez as a witness. He reached the top of the ladder in 1959 and 1962.
His career was cut short by a very serious goring in Tarazona de Aragón, on July 17, 1963, fighting cattle from Ramos Matías Hermanos, along with Ángel Peralta, El Viti and El Caracol. He titled ABC the next day: ‘The right-hander lost more than five liters of blood from the wound. Before being operated on, for life or death, he received the last Sacraments. ‘ He suffered the goring when starting the series of crutches, in his first bull: «According to versions of the trusted peons, the strong wind that was in the Plaza discovered the matador and the bull, following his onslaught, put the horn underneath, striking the bullfighter a dry goring in the lower abdomen ».
The tragic details accumulated. Ángel Peralta tried to stop the outflow of blood, with his hand, and then with a sheet. The presence of blood donors was requested: about two hundred people formed a long queue in front of the infirmary. Years later, Ostos himself remembered something else:
«I heard through the door of my room the conversation of the doctors, who gave me no hope of life. If we add to this that, when I started to improve, I had a ninety percent chance of losing my leg, it was a very strong trauma … I already had many goring to my body: all had healed in a period of thirty days; this lasted a long year.
But Jaime Ostos managed to defeat death and returned to the arena. A year later, in 1964, Luis Marquina directed an interesting documentary film about this terrible episode, with a non-linear structure, similar to that of ‘Citizen Kane’. Its title could not be more laconic and accurate: ‘Brave’. That was how Jaime Ostos was by nature.
In that film you can see the classic style of the right-hander: he really fought, with good cape casts, excellent naturals and extraordinary lunges. The latter were his great weapon. A photograph has become famous in which he is seen going in to kill, emptying the attack with his left hand, his gaze fixed on the hut, where he has just driven the sword into his hand. A model for those who want to learn this difficult luck.
In short and by right
Whenever we chatted, he would talk to me about the orthodox way of using the sword: short and right, entering head-on, without looking at the pins, letting his left foot slide to attract the onslaught … «One afternoon in Madrid, I punctured five times and they kept applauding me ». To do so, in addition to technique, it takes a lot of courage. That is why they nicknamed him ‘Heart of the Lion’, like Robin de los Bosques’ friend.
Cañabate wrote one afternoon in Las Ventas: «How beautiful is the courage of a bullfighter! How it reaches us and penetrates us into the depths of our sensibility! Jaime Ostos’s is made of sterling gold ». Jean Cau, a collaborator of Jean-Paul Sartre, accompanied Jaime Ostos and his large group (El Vito, Luis González) throughout the 1960 season: thus the very interesting book ‘Las orejas y el rabo’ was born.
On April 9, he turned 90, after having overcome a serious illness, in which he weighed 45 kilos: “He has been the hardest bull of my life,” he declared in an interview with ABC. He spoke to me, with his usual frankness, about those who now attack the Fiesta: “You cannot put restrictions on the art of bullfighting or any other art.” And from present-day Spain: «I am not from the left or the right, but from the people, but there are things that I cannot understand: I feel Spanish, in all American squares I have seen the Spanish flag and right now there are no communists or in Russia…”
He had suffered twenty-five goring, twice they gave him the extreme unction, but he had no doubt that it had been worth it: “I didn’t want to be one more. I have always liked art, in its various facets. Bullfighting has allowed me to leave something to others. Being a bullfighter made me a person, it has allowed me to help others and for people to remember me with respect. A bullfighter must have a very big heart. That has always been my life: an honest fight. This is how he earned the title of Jaime Corazón de León: a great bullfighter and a great character.