Russian bullfighter blunders to victory

He gracelessly kills an angry toro -- making the Spanish crowd even angrier.

Published April 28, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Roman Karpukhin made history recently when he became the first Russian to appear in a Spanish bullfighting ring. According to a BBC report, Karpukhin's daunting debut in Barcelona's Monumental Arena resulted in the nervous, haphazard killing of a young bull, and a resounding reaction of disapproval from Spanish onlookers, who pelted the novice fighter with their seat cushions.

What's the story, Karpukhin? According to the report, he formerly served as a Russian air force captain, but when communism fell in his country, he decided to get out, because, said the BBC, he felt "people had lost respect for the military."

Upon arriving in Spain in 1997, Karpukhin promptly fell in love with bullfighting. After a stint as a ballroom-dance teacher and a forklift driver, he enrolled in the Catalonia bullfighting school, where he studied the deadly sport for a year.

On April 16, the gutsy Russian stepped into Monumental Arena wearing a blue suit reminiscent of his former Russian military uniform. Visibly jittery, he rushed to attack his horned opponent with his sword, stabbing the beast three times before finishing him off with a gash to its throat.

The crowd showed their disapproval by whistling and winging their seat cushions into the arena, but a spokesperson for the bullring told the BBC that Karpukhin had performed "reasonably well." The report did not say if he plans to fight again.

By J.A. Getzlaff

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