Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/569

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The most prominent espadas, thus far, are found among the Spaniards. Of the Mexicans who are coming up to rival them, Ponciano Diaz stands at the head—if, indeed, he be not now better than any other except Mazzantini. An exhibition of his at the Colon ring last August was spoken of at the time as the finest ever seen in the capital. The immense amphitheatre was filled with "the beauty and chivalry of Mexico." Ponciano killed six bulls, worth one hundred and fifty dollars each. Bouquets of flowers were continually rained upon him, and his popularity seemed to have reached a dizzy height.

Ponciano Diaz, like his namesake, President Diaz, is a thorough Mexican in looks and type, and a brief mention of the main points in his career will illustrate the rise of a native hero and idol in this popular diversion.

He is twenty-nine years old. He was born on the hacienda of Atenco, above mentioned, where his father was the caporal, or general overseer of the stock. This situation gave the young Ponciano decided advantages and a bias from the start. It is rather curious to reflect upon such an infancy as was his, passed among the fierce bulls of Atenco; he was his father's constant companion, mounting on horseback beside him, from his tenderest years.

Although there was no bull-fighting in the Federal District at the time, there was plenty in the villages round about, and the young Ponciano fed his growing taste with the exhibitions thus accessible. Then he joined a band, got up by certain "Hernandez Brothers," on the hacienda itself. He made his first public appearance in the professional way in the humble capacity of an arrastrador,