MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Francisco ``Curro'' Rivera, one of Mexico's most famous bullfighters, died of a heart attack Tuesday while practicing his craft. He was 49.

Rivera, who retired eight years ago, had planned to return to the ring this year.

``He died how he wanted, in the ring,'' family friend Ricardo Garcia Rojas told Mexico's state-run news agency, Notimex.

Rivera, the son of famous bullfighter Fermin Rivera, started his career as a boy and completed more than 1,000 fights before his retirement. He was scheduled to return to the ring in February at the Plaza Mexico in Mexico City, promising to begin a new era for bullfighting fans.

Rivera was practicing at a ranch in the western state of Jalisco when he suffered the heart attack. His body was taken to San Luis Potosi, where he will be buried.

Funeral details and information on survivors were not immediately available.