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Lupita_rodillasPSLady Matador Lupita Lopez will return Sunday, Jan. 23, as the world-class bloodless bullfights at the Santa Maria Bullring will begin the new season. Lopez was the triumphant woman matador of the 2010 bullfights, drawing great favor with the crowds.

Since its beginning 11 years ago, the Santa Maria Bull Ring in La Gloria has been growing in popularity attracting more and more fans to the sport each year. The Santa Maria Bull Ring offers winter visitors an opportunity to get a little taste of the Hispanic culture. The major difference in a Mexican bullfight and an American one is that bullfighters are not allowed to kill the bull.

All of the techniques used in the bullfights in Mexico, Spain and other parts of the Hispanic-cultured world are the same. Approximately 20 minutes before each bullfight starts, a demonstration of the moves to be used by the matadors will be presented. The purpose of each move will be explained. In Hispanic culture, a bullfight is considered more like a ballet than a sport because of all the moves the matadors must make.

Lupita Lopez is a raven-haired beauty that began fighting when she was 12, and came up through the ranks with hard training and perseverance. Even after being wounded by a bull’s horns, Lopez has continued to become one of only three active women in the world. She is slated to open the season at the Santa Maria Bullring on Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. Lupita will face two bulls that will be presented.

She took the Santa Maria Bullring in La Gloria by storm in January and February last year winning the top trophy for her superb action in the ring. Matador Lopez also appeared four times during the 2010 season in the world's largest bullring in Mexico City.

Lupita arrived from Spain on Jan. 4 and will be training at the La Gloria facility to prepare for her appearance in the opener and other events in February. She has been dubbed the “Mayan Princess” by the locals, because of her heritage from Merida in the Yucatan of Mexico.

She appeared in Plaza Mexico, Nuevo Progresso's ring in Guadalajara, Torreon, and Saltillo and has toured the rings of Yucatan state in Mexico, plus a jump to Spain during the 2010 season. She always comes to the ring early to greet the fans, and they love it.

"For me it's the bulls and their power and strength that possess me.  Once I have conquered my fear, and when I am in the ring with them, I feel the bull is my partner, and we do the ballet together, the movement of the cape guides them by, and it's a rush that no other activity can give you," Lopez explains.

Alternating with Lupita will be the great Guillermo Martinez of Jalisco, who appeared Christmas Day in Mexico City, where he scored a hearty triumph with the bulls of San Marcos. Each will perform two bullfights.

“Guillermo is a top star, who has all the credentials, with grand triumphs from Mexico's capital to the top rings in the world. Being so highly ranked, it is an honor to have him perform for Valley fans in our humble bullring,” stated Renk.

The bulls to be used in the opener are from Fred Renk's La Querencia Ranch. Born and raised in La Gloria, they are from the only fighting bull ranch in the U.S.  The bulls are pure San Mateo blood, and will be on display at the ranch in La Gloria until fight day.

"The fighting bulls are the main stars,” states Renk. “We have had a successful breeding program and brought the best seed bulls that money can buy from Spain, with heritage that dates back to the 1700s, and the best fighting cows available in Mexico. When born we care for the bulls until three years old, then separate them for the ring," says Renk who is also a fighting bull breeder.

“The brave bull gets his bravery from his mother, and his nobility from the father. I am presenting four of my animals for the opener," said Renk.

The fighting bull can only be fought once, and after that the Professional Bull Riding rodeo circuit takes them on tour to play with the clowns during rodeo season. So the bulls that fight at the Santa Maria Bull Ring go on to have a long and fruitful life.

Buses are available through Original Tours in McAllen at 761-6663. Individuals can call for reservations at the bullring at 481-3300, or buy tickets in Mission at Border Tire, located at the corner of Bus. 83 and Mayberry Street, 585-8473.

Tickets for the bullfight are $25 for the sunny side of the ring, $30 for the shady side and $40 for ringside box seats.

This year there will be food and beverages and the newly repainted facility has clean restrooms. Gates open at 1 p.m. and the bullfight starts at 4 p.m. The bullring is located on FM 1017 in La Gloria, Texas. Go north on U.S. 281 to San Manuel, exit FM 1017, turn left and go through San Isidro to La Gloria, a distance of about 20 miles.

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