Jean-Marie Bourret: “Being in the Ponce squad is being in your family”

Jean-Marie Bourret: “Being in the Ponce squad is being in your family”
Jean-Marie Bourret: “Being in the Ponce squad is being in your family”

During more than 10 times the Nîmes Jean-Marie Bourret was banderillero in the squadron of Ponce. He evokes this journey and the proximity with the maestro when he has just said goodbye to the arenas of Nîmes.

Under what circumstances did you come into contact with Enrique Ponce?

It was Denis Loré who, during the 1990/1991 period and his stay in Venezuela, told me that Ponce was looking for a third banderillero. At first I entered into a relationship with his apoderado. The maestro had two contracts at the Fallas de Valencia, but only eight engagements afterwards. For my debut alongside him, everything went well and it was especially in Madrid, for the San Isidro, that things took another turn. I had to cross the track, I will always remember it, to go and “punt” his bull. I responded to his expectations, and he was able to cut off one ear. That year, he bullfighted fifty-one bullfights.

How long did you stay in his cuadrilla?

Until I made the decision, in 2003, to retire. It was for the 2003 Harvest that I made my last paseo in the arenas of Nîmes, before the last bullfights of the Spanish temporada.

Have you counted the number of bullfights done with him?

A little over one thousand two hundred and fifty…

What words can you choose to evoke his personality?

Loyal, generous, with a very strong feeling of family spirit; Funny too, with a pronounced sense of joking. And, obviously, a huge aficionado. We can’t imagine the number of times when, after the bullfight, returning to the hotel, while waiting for the elevator, we saw him continuing to bullfight, as if the muleta was still in his hands.

During all these years spent with him, how did you feel about his relationship with you and his squad?

I can say that we were treated wonderfully. The best hotels and à la carte menus from the start. In short, I always had the certainty that being in the squad was being part of your family. Most of the time we all traveled together. He had arranged a “coach” with eight seats, plus his own. During trips, he could often watch films. Westerns or dramas.

Concerning bullfighting directly, what sentence do you remember from him?

One day he told me: “You have to think about bullfighting 16 hours a day.”

What is the major characteristic that you will remember from him against the bulls?

Too hard to say, but I always knew he relentlessly wanted to get the most out of each toro. Only once did I see him cut short. He had no other option.

What does he feel about Nîmes?

He loves Nîmes and its public. I think that when Simon Casas asked him to reappear for the start of his farewell period he didn’t hesitate for long. For him, Nîmes has a special scent.

Aside from the bulls, what are his interests?

He leads a very healthy lifestyle, he really enjoys golf. And, what we don’t know much about in France, he is an excellent singer!

What triumph of his do you remember first?

There are so many! Maybe Bilbao, twice. Unforgettable moments. Those from Nîmes too, of course, with memorable moments, like that of the Italian tenor singing at the time of the blow, then during the meal at Lisita, continuing the recital, before returning to the arenas in the afternoon.

What do you remember from your “despedida” in Nîmes?

The incredible welcome from the public, the very touching brindis the maestro gave me. And then his words. “For your Vuelta, don’t go fast.” So that I can take full advantage of these unique minutes.

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