The worldwide reputation of bullfighting has suffered in recent years. However, while bullfighting’s popularity has declined, schools dedicated to the subject still receive new students each year who dream of one day stepping into the arena to the people’s cheer. One city that believes that there is still a future generation of bullfighters is the city of Almería, southern Spain.
Here 10 boys, aged 12, train three times a week and a further four boys, aged 16, do the same. Two of them have already experienced their first time in an arena and fought against a bull to the bitter end. The minimum age for when you can fight an entire race against a bull is 16. All the boys here dream of one day having their name at the top of the poster and receiving the ultimate tribute, to be carried out on the shoulders of the people through the gate at one of the biggest races in Madrid.
Until then, the boys must practice all facets of bullfighting. Bullfighting is described as an art form, not a sport, so everything must be done in as beautiful, dangerous and pure a manner as possible. And due to this title, and that it has been around for hundreds of years, bullfighting is today protected as cultural heritage. When not training, the boys use all of their free time on practising. No matter what time of day.
Historically we always only focus on the winners so giving a name and a face to the people who come in second was Nikolai Linares whole idea. He thought that we should all recognise that nobody ends up in a competition final without a lot of hard work.
The silver medallist should also get some attention. “I fully understand the society that we live in, and that we all want to be a winner. The important statement for me in this photo series is that we should not always focus on being the best, but rather focus on doing our best. We have to remember that somewhere, there will always be someone that is better than you,” says Nikolai Linares.
During the two days of shooting Nikolai Linares asked 15 boxers just after loosing, and 13 said yes to have their portrait taken. Most of them were disappointed, but some how they were very quick to recognize that today it just was not their day. But then again, they all felt that they would just come back next year stronger and even better prepared. One was close to tears while another was already joking with his friend. They had very different emotions.