JUST over a year ago Jose Tomas was lying on a life support machine in Mexico facing a 50/50 chance of death.
But this weekend, after a dramatic return, he became – once again – the world’s best paid bullfighter with a welcome return in Valencia.
Madrid-born Tomas, 35, had lost nearly half his blood when a 500 kilo bull pierced a major artery in his leg in Aguascalientas in April 2010.
But yesterday he bravely fought two bulls… making an estimated 400,000 euros in the process.
He even got tossed by one of the two bulls, the 556 kilo Sweet Tooth, but immediately got up to dispatch the beast.
The world’s most sought after bullfighter has now announced he is to fight on eight occasions this season, earning a minimum 300,000 euros per fight.
He will only fight twice in Andalucia – in Huelva on August 3 and Linares on August 29 – and will finish his run with a triumphant return to Barcelona in September, in what could be one of the last ever fights in Catalonia.
He has spent much of the last year recuperating in Estepona, where he has a girlfriend.
According to local sources, he is often seen running up and down the promenade and cycles an average of 40kms a day.
The doctor Jose Gonzalez, who carried out the lifesaving operation in Mexico and oversaw his recovery explained: “It was a day-by-day case of sacrifice and determination, but he had his mind set on returning to the ring as soon as the injury allowed him.”
It is not for nothing that he is often now dubbed the ‘saviour of bullfighting’ leaving rings sold out for almost all his fights and bringing each city an estimated 1.5m euros in commerce.
It is said he could easily fill the 90,000 seats of Real Madrid’s stadium The Bernabeu.
One bullfight enthusiast Jeffrey Pearce told the Olive Press: “He puts his life on the line in every one of his fights. He literally gets nearer to the bull than any other fighter and that bravery is incredible.”
The French boss of the Valencia ring added: “I don’t remember so much expectation in 30 years of bullfighting.
“For the past 10 years, Jose Tomas has been the landmark figure in today’s bullfighting. He’s a legend.”