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Matador Seriously Injured in Bull Ring Mishap

September 11, 1989

MARSEILLE, France (AP) _ France’s most celebrated matador regained consciousness Monday but remained paralyzed after being thrown by a 1,210- pound bull.

Christian Montcouquiol, 35, struck his head Sunday when the bull, his second of the day at a tournament in the nearby town of Arles, lifted him on its horns and flipped him over.

The bull quickly turned and butted the motionless Montcouquiol before rescuers could distract it. The matador was not gored.

Montcouquiol suffered four broken or dislocated vertebrae that paralyzed his arms, legs and respiratory system, said neurological specialists at La Timone hospital in Marseilles.

Initially in a coma, Montcouquiol underwent neck surgery Sunday night. He was conscious Monday but remained on artificial breathing support in guarded condition, doctors said.

Montcouquiol, who goes by the ring name Nimeno II, killed his first bull at the age of 15 and has been a full-fledged matador since 1977.

He is a star in arenas throughout southern France, where the sport is popular, and was one of the first French matadors of his generation to appear in bull-fighting tournaments in Latin America and Spain.

Montcouquiol has killed more than 800 bulls and is considered by afficionados a technical master who employs an especially dramatic pose with the banderillas, short spears used by matadors to taunt bulls.

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