Manolete was born in Cordoba on 4th July 1917. His father was also a famous matador - Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez, popularly known as Sagañón or Angustias Sanchez.
At the age of twelve, in 1929, he learnt the first steps in bullfighting at El Lobatón farm in Cordoba.
1931. Manolete was a student at the bullfighting schools in Montilla, Bujalance and at Venta de Vargas in Cordoba.
1933. He participated in several festivals with a comic bullfighting group called Los Califas (The Caliphs).
1935. He made his first appearance at the old Tetuan de las Victorias bullring in Madrid.
1939. He was formally presented as a bullfighter (known as “taking the alternative”) in Seville on 2nd July by Chicuelo, with Gitanillo de Triana as witness. The first bull he fought as a matador came from the Clemente Tassara cattle farm and was named “Mirador”. On 12th October, in Madrid, he went through the ceremony known “confirming the alternative” with Marcial Lalanda and Juanito Belmonte, who also confirmed Juan Belmonte as a witness and “rejoneador” (mounted bullfighter with a lance). He took part in 16 bullfights.
1940. He took part in 50 bullfights - 58 in 1941, and 72 in 1942.
1943. He became the best known bullfighter with 71 appearances, including five in Madrid.
1944. Once again he was the bullfighter with the most appearances, appearing 92 times, five of them in Madrid.
1945. A broken collarbone meant that he “only” made 71 appearances.
1946. He decided not to fight in Spanish bullrings, with the exception of the Charity Bullfight in Madrid. Instead, he has a sensational long season in America (30 bullfights), where he was acclaimed as the greatest figure of bullfighting.
1947. He spent the American winter with his girlfriend Lupe Sino, and started the season late, at the end of May. On July 16 he appeared for the last time in Madrid, again at the Charity Bullfight. He “cut two ears”, but was wounded in the process. His penultimate bullfight took place in Santander. From there he travelled to Linares, on that fateful 28th August, where the second bull of the afternoon, a Miura bull named Islero, jabbed Manolete in the thigh as he came in for the kill. The rest is history: he died just after five o’clock in the morning on the 29th, and, after his death, the legend was born of one of the greatest bullfighters of all time.
He was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of Charity.
His bullfighting is remembered for:
1. His Stoical, heroic, upright stance.
2. His vertical movements, his incredible precision with the sword, his inimitable personality, his truth, his bullfighting, his honesty, his harmony, qualities which accompanied his greatest virtue, the greatest contribution of this slim “Caliph of bullfighting”: slick, quiet efficiency elevated to the highest degree, a second revolution and, perhaps, the last ethereal and eternal representative of bullfighting.
3.Ricardo García “K-Hito", the veteran bullfighting journalist, gave him the nickname of "Monstruo” (Monster).
4. He fought bulls at an incredibly close distance, again and again, every afternoon, no matter what bulls he fought, in such a small space, with that honour and honesty that eventually led to his death.