He was born in Alicante on January 3rd, 1982 to a family with a great bullfighting tradition. Since his father was such a great torero figure, he had always lived in very close proximity to the bullfighting world. Although he began studying Veterinary Science, he soon realized that his vocation was bullfighting. As such, when he was 19 he presented himself as a bull-calf fighter at a festival held in Campotéjar (Granada) on April 29th, 2001. He cut two tails and his name began to resound. He debuted with lancers on the 22nd of February, 2002, in Nimes, a ring that has seen great happenings, along with David Luguillano and Juan Bautista.
On June 24th, 2003, the day all apprentice bullfighters dream about arrived. José María Manzanares became a qualified bullfighter in “his ring” in Alicante on the great day of the Fair of Hogueras, just as his father did. Enrique Ponce handed him over to Birreino, a 457-kilo black bull from Daniel Ruiz’s stock, with Francisco Rivera Ordóñez present. It was a tremendous and exciting afternoon, with the bullfighter flying through the Big Door with three ears and a tail. The season was spectacular, as in addition to his twenty training bullfights from before in rings with great responsibility, he had carried out almost forty bullfights in high-category rings.
In 2002, after his debut with lancers, fans began noticing his extraordinary bullfighting concept and he carried out twenty-four training fights in important arenas, except for Madrid and Seville. In 2003, he did perform in both of these arenas, exceeding thirty training bullfights and solidifying himself as the main apprentice bullfighter. His bullfighting was to be seen at the most important fairs and rings, both in Spain and in France and the Americas. He presented himself at Las Ventas on June 16th, 2003, with steers from Los Bayones. Librerito II, weighing in at 516 pounds, was the presented animal, and he was accompanied on the team by José Manuel Prieto and Luis Bolívar. He cut his first ear from a bull, leaving very good feelings. With such a career as an apprentice bullfighter, the bullfighting world began paying attention to Manzanares’ son, and he did not let them down.
He became a qualified bullfighter on June 24th, a great day at the fair in his city of birth, Alicante. Enrique Ponce handed him over to Birreino, a 457-kilo black bull from Daniel Ruiz’s stock, with Francisco Rivera Ordóñez present. It was a tremendous and exciting afternoon, with the bullfighter flying through the Big Door with three ears and a tail. The season was spectacular, as in addition to his twenty training bullfights from before in rings with great responsibility, he had almost forty bullfights in high-category rings. On July 26th 2003, he spent a triumphant afternoon in Valencia, cutting two ears and he was carried out shoulders-high from the ring on Xátiva street. He confirmed his status as a qualified bullfighter in Las Ventas on May 17th, 2005, with the bull Catavino, a black speckled bull, weighing in at 522 kilos from Garcigrande stock. César Jiménez and Salvador Vega were his team partners.
During the 2006 season, he truly began to excel and became a must at all of the important fairs, performing in more than sixty bullfights, triumphing in many of them and leaving people with the feeling that he was an astounding bullfighter with the chops to become a figure. His triumphs in Spain and France continued over into the Americas. On November 19th, 2006, he was qualified in La México with “El Juli” as his sponsor and bulls from Los Encinos, José Luis Angelino and Antonio Bricio completing the team. He cut two ears and left through the Big Door. He repeated his success in the same ring and in other American rings at the beginning of 2007, this season become one of his surest bets. He was present at all of the greatest fairs, and his bullfighting only increased ever since becoming qualified.
He reached recognition with his 2007 season. He managed to open the Big Door at Mexico’s Monumental twice in less than a month. He went on to have other triumphs in Bogota, Castellon, Barcelona, Seville, a double fight in Alicante and Toledo, where he had some of his best ending minutes to the date. His performance in Malaga made him be declared a winner at the fair upon cutting three ears during the Juan Pedro Domecq bull run. Unfortunately, José María Manzanares had to cut the season short in Linares on August 30th, after fighting 63 bullfights, due to a fainting attack suffered after killing his first bull. This is why the bullfighter from Alicante did not carry out his normal American campaign during this season. After his mandatory resting period, José María Manzanares began his season in Spain.
It did not take long for him to triumph again. His first triumph was in Olivenza on March 2nd, 2008, where he cut three ears from Zalduendo bulls. Coming from a long line of bullfighters with good conduct, he once again triumphed in Seville for the second year in a row, cutting two ears from a Juan Pedro Domecq bull under an endless rain of both water and “olés.” This fight made him the winner of the Feria de Abril (April Fair) in 2008. This was not the only award he collected that season, as his fights in Alicante, in the Puerto de Santa María and in Albacete were also worthy of the highest praise. On this occasion, and after one year of absence, José María Manzanares travelled to America, where he was awaited with enthusiasm given the expectation created around his persona from the great European campaign. Here his triumphs were unstoppable, such as the two ears cut in Valencia or those he cut from a beautiful steer from Montegrande’s stock in Acho. Just as his father did, José María Manzanares began the season in America, and he could not have done it better. During his first show in the 2009 campaign, working as a team with Finito de Córdoba and Leonardo Benítez, he pardoned Capitán Boris from the “El Prado” stock, of which Manzanares had taken the greatest care since he come onto the ring. The fight rose in intensity, step by step, until blossoming into the most exquisite art, thereby leading to a unanimous request for pardon. After simulating the last step, Alicante’s bullfighter clamorously returned to the ring with the two symbolic ears. Scarcely ten days later, he cut three ears at Santa María in Bogota from Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo bulls.
These triumphs were a premonition of what was to come. José María Manzanares once again triumphed in Seville on April 27th, 2009. For the third year in a row, he cut two ears in an unforgettable fight with the bull Pañedo, weighing 545 kilos, with which he had a splendid, proper fight. The bullfighter’s accurate lance blows lit up La Maestranza. In the year 2010, bullfighter José María Manzanares’ bullfighting continued to evolve and his triumphs did not take long to arrive. First, in San Cristóbal, Venezuela, on January 29th. He cut two ears from the first bull in the batch, with a settled, aesthetic pure style. With great technique, the bullfighter managed to divert the bull’s jab, culminating the fight with a perfect thrust. On April 20th, José María Manzanares carried out two fights, marked by exquisitely performed, straight thrusts, that earned him two ears at the Real Maestranza de Caballería in Seville. The bullfighter form Alicante was now taking an important place in the history of Seville’s bullring. On June 5th, he pardoned “Chicharrito” in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a Torrealta bull branded with the number 2. He perfectly took the bull by both horns, with beautiful adornments, cutting off the bull’s passage with the cape in his left hand, changing hands and bringing the cape in tight to his body as the bull passed by. Triumphs continued in Alicante, Albacete and Sanlúcar de Barrameda until July 18th, when he fought a bull from Victoriano del Río that came out last. He worked with rhythm, based on his right hand, culminating in a spectacular thrust. During the month of August, José María Manzanares’ elegant, classic bullfighting conquered rings as important as Huelva, where he also received the award for the best final minutes; two important triumphs at El Puerto de Santamaría and in Béziers. In the French city, the bullfighter let himself go and improvisation bloomed, giving shape to passes with his cape with a deep, expressive performance. It was a sensational year for José María Manzanares. His happiness in the ring was palpable. There was one glorious afternoon after another, with beautiful finishes and great inspiration. On August 15th, he triumphed in Gijón, and the following day in San Sebastián he fought the complicated Núñez del Cuvillo bull, which he finished off with one of his fulminant thrusts. His performance was awarded with the Concha de Oro, granted by San Sebastián City Hall. A season which, just like his bullfights, kept improving. On August 17th, he shined at the fight in Málaga and cut three ears at a Juan Pedro Domecq bull run. The way José María Manzanares understands bullfighting led him to triumph in Cuenca, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Palencia and Utrera. As the cherry on top for a sweet season, during the Alcaraz festival (Albacete), he pardoned “Rejonero,” a young steer from Daniel Ruiz, branded with the number 82. Two days later, during his show in Utrera, he suffered a cut from his sword on his left hand that separated his tendons and forced him to put an end to the season.
Even though the injury kept him out of the ring for four months, his triumphs and unforgettable afternoons repeated once again in 2011. The first fairs of the season couldn’t resist José María Manzanares’ exquisite bullfighting. His triumphs in Olivenza and Castellon during the month of march were merely the prologue to what would take place on April 30th. A historic day, led by José María Manzanares in the Real Maestranza de Caballería of Seville. The Sevillian public fell to their knees before the incredible performance, where José María Manzanares fought “Arrojado,” an extraordinary bull from Núñez del Cuvillo’s stock, whose life he spared. This was a historical, never-before-seen event. He was beginning a sublime season. On May 13th, in Jerez de la Frontera, he bested one of Núñez del Cuvillo’s bulls, in a fight to be remembered forever. A plethora of cape passes over both horns, astoundingly slow, culminating in a thrust to the hilt, which allowed him to cut two ears and a tail. Still in the month of May in Valladolid, he showed his mettle, class, dominion and plasticity with Hermanos García Jiménez’s bulls. On May 18th, Madrid’s audience acclaimed him as he left Las Ventas through the Big Door, held shoulders-high. His fighting style was exquisite and the thrust was impeccably executed. The bullfighter from Alicante cut two ears from his second bull. This was José María Manzanares’ first Big Door in Madrid. Two days later, the bullfighter returned to Madrid’s ring, excited to repeat recent history. His mettle and deliberation with a Juan Pedro Domecq bull made the public give him a well-earned ear. The bullfighter’s deliberate fighting style reached all of the most important fairs. On May 26th, he showed his grace in Cordoba with Juan Pedro Domecq’s bulls, from whence he cut four ears. On June 11th, the magic of bullfighting once again bloomed in Nimes at José María Manzanares’ hand. It was the day his brother Manuel Manzanares, was to be qualified, and the bullfighter from Alicante cut four ears and a tail from both Garcigrande bulls. His style continued to evolve toward perfection, putting the stands into a frenzy. He absolutely triumphed the two afternoons he performed in Barcelona, on July 10th and September 24th, the second-to-last day a bull festival was held at the Monumental. On July 22nd, Valencia also enjoyed a splendid moment. At El Puerto de Santamaría, he repeated a fantastic afternoon, cutting four ears from Núñez de Cuvillo bulls. On September, he alternated with “El Juli” and Cayetano in Goyesca de Ronda, drawing lots for the most lackluster batch. José María Manzanares fought with his cape with exquisite taste, to later finish off with a beautiful ending. During this season, Valladolid, Granada, León, Burgos, Palencia, Pontevedra, Linares and Albacete, in addition to others, bore witness to José María Manzanares’ ease in classic and elegant bullfighting. His triumphs in Spain continued in France. His glorious morning in Nimes was merely the precursor for his afternoons in Bèziers, Dax and Bayonne.
After triumphing in Medellin (Colombia), the 2012 season took off with afternoons as important as the one on March 16th in Valencia, where he once again showed his elegance with Garcigrande’s bulls. On the afternoon of April 20th, when José María Manzanares, “The Prince of Seville,” he paid homage to his nickname, unveiling his aesthetic beauty in the arena, once again attaining glory in the ring. He remained happy, and this could be felt in the ring with his astonishing fortitude. The Big Door at Aguascalientes could not resist the bullfighter from Alicante, either. On April 30th, he cut four ears, and the afternoon of June 6th, he took two appendices. The season continued, and one triumph came after another in rings such as Jerez, Valladolid, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Granada, Badajoz, Dax and Albacete. The way he composes his figure in front of bulls is unique and of sublime beauty. On September 23rd, he fought once again on an afternoon with great artistic content at the Real Maestranza de Caballería in Seville, and managed to once more open the Prince’s Door.
The first important afternoon during the 2013 season came about on April 13th with the heroic feat of Seville. José María Manzanares wrote a new page in the history of bullfighting in Seville. He decided to enclose himself with six bulls from different stocks. Once again, his exquisite class and expressiveness conquered the Sevillian public. After two highly relevant afternoons at Jerez de la Frontera on May 10th with Juan Pedro Domecq’s bulls and in Granada on May 30th with “El Pilar” bulls, another historic afternoon took place. This was the day that José María Manzanares was celebrating the tenth anniversary of his qualification. He shared this glorious afternoon, loaded with emotion, with Enrique Ponce and his brother Manuel Manzanares, in the presence of his father, José Manzanares, and his grandfather, Pepe Manzanares. His maturity and form did not go unnoticed in Algeciras, Badajoz, Huelva, El Puerto de Santamaría, Almería, Linares, Palencia, Salamanca and Valladolid. Beyond our borders, fans in Beziers and Cali bore witness to his skill. Once again in Nimes, on September 14th, he collaborated with “El Juli,” showing the grandness of his bullfighting. The afternoon was perfect, and the Alicante native cut 4 ears and a tail.
The 2014 season began with a portent of what would be the year in which he garners the most triumphs of his career. First at the Fallas in Valencia, where he demonstrated his composure with the cape and calm grace with the muleta. The duel with his first bull, from Juan Pedro Domecq, was awarded two ears. After laying down a marker in bullrings such as Castellon, Valladolid and Jerez, he gave what was possibly one of the best displays of the season in Granada. In his duel with the last bull of the corrida José María Manzanares fought with timeless command, smooth, elegant and dominant in his bullfighting. After a lightning-fast estocada in the final act, he was awarded two ears. It was a good year, too, in Alicante, his hometown, where he mastered a Zalduendo bull, earning two ears in the process and being paraded through the main gate. The triumphant tour of the Alicante matador continued in Algeciras, Gijon and Cuenca. On August 10, he gave a memorable afternoon display of bullfighting in El Puerto de Santa María with bulls from Zalduendo. A few days later, he won four ears in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and his jubilant public demanded the tail too.
The season could not have gone any better. His successes in France were repeated. On April 19 he won four ears from Garcigrande bulls in Arles. He was paraded through the main gates of Mont de Marsan, Beziers and Dax. It was on the morning of June 8 in Nîmes when José María Manzanares was paraded through the Gate of the Consuls on a second consecutive day, earning three ears and claiming a resounding triumph in the Roman Coliseum.