MADRID, Spain At age 65, after enduring a knee replacement and quadruple bypass surgery, Spain's only British bullfighter is stepping out of retirement and back into the ring.
Frank Evans, whose showbiz name is "El Ingles" the Englishman says his return is like succumbing to the lure of an old lover. "I've met the old girlfriend and she is lovely. She is more beautiful than she was before. Irresistible," Evans told The Associated Press.
Evan's family wife, two sons, five grandchildren are hardly crazy about the idea, but this balding son of a Manchester butcher will dust off his cape and sword and fight on Sunday in Villanueva de la Concepcion in southern Spain, ending a three-year hiatus in his life's passion.
Retirement, it seems, was more terrifying than anything the bulls ever did to him, and Evans has many such souvenirs: a gash here, a scar there and once a nasty goring right smack in the butt.
"I am just delighted to be back. I just want to be back doing what I do and that's living the life of a bullfighter," Evans said in an interview from his home in Marbella.
Evans has been at it for more than 40 years and killed hundreds of bulls but is the first to admit he never hit it big. He never fought in the top-rate arenas of Madrid or Seville that are bullfighting's most hallowed grounds.
But Evans is the only Briton ever to reach the profession's top level: matador. They kill animals weighing up to 1,500 pounds (700 kilos), unlike novices who battle younger bulls or simply poke the animal with spikes, bleeding and weakening it until the full-fledged master steps in, working it with his cape and ultimately dealing the death blow.
On doctors' orders, Evans retired in 2005. An old rugby injury had come back to haunt his left knee and it was a mess. Evans survived his last season by shooting his leg full of cortisone.
He underwent knee replacement surgery and it went so well he could not resist planning a comeback. Then, tragedy struck. A bullfighter friend came out of retirement at age 62 and dropped dead of a heart attack while training.
"So I thought I'd better go and get a checkup just to make sure," Evans said. Alas, doctors found his heart was a mess, too, and performed quadruple bypass surgery in September of last year. Evans has been training since January he practices with feisty cows and says he feels great.
So off he struts, into the ring, bum knee and bad ticker.
These days most bullfighters are in their 20s and 30s. It is not that rare, however, for them to last well into their 60s.
At Sunday's fight, Evans and five other bullfighters will take on younger bulls that weigh a lot less than the fully grown beasts. But they are still dangerous.
Is Evans a lunatic? He says he has plenty of money from other sources and does not need to kill bulls to make a living. He is keenly aware of the risks, but powerless to resist what he called love and vocation for bullfighting.
His voice broke as he spoke of his worried family.
"It is quite a selfish thing to do really, I suppose, to engage in this sort of activity out of caprice," Evans said. "I am sort of living the life I want to lead and to some extent I am sure that puts pressure on those who are near me. And I am sorry that they have to put up with it. But that's it."