Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Matador aged 11 kills six bulls


Young Mexican at work in bull-ring

An 11-year-old Franco-Mexican boy has killed six young bulls in a single fight, despite moves to stop the event.

Michelito Lagravere has been bullfighting since he was four years old.

Last year several of Michelito's bullfights in France were banned after protests by animal rights groups.

This time the controversial spectacle was given a last minute go-ahead despite pressure from child protection and anti-bullfighting campaign groups.

The mayor of Merida, where the fight took place, had earlier suspended the event, saying it was illegal for youths under the age of 18 to take part in high-risk public performances.

But the state prosecutor's office overturned the ban just hours before the fight after Michelito's father - a former French bullfighter - launched an appeal.

"I'm happy to have achieved this great victory," Michelito Lagravere said as he left the ring in Merida.

Courting controversy

Some 3,500 people, including many children, reportedly gathered to witness the fight at the ring in the eastern city of Merida in Yucatan state.

The child matador is already an international star in the world of bullfighting.

Michelito Lagravere Peniche practising in the ring
Michelito first entered a bullfighting ring when he was four
He first entered the ring when he was four, killed his first bull calf two years later and has since taken on dozens of animals around the world.

His rise to fame has not been without controversy, but the little bullfighter has been defiant in the face of criticism.

"The bullfighting opponents shouldn't stick their nose in things they don't like," he said ahead of his fight.

"No-one is forcing them to watch bullfights or to keep informed about them. It's as if I told a boy who does motocross not to do it, it's very bothersome."

Last year, the child prodigy caused a public outcry in France while he was touring the bullfighting circuit there.

Several cities banned him from killing animals during his appearances after anti-bullfighting activists waged a high profile campaign.

They said they had targeted him over other younger matadors because "he fights in corridas [bullfights] aiming to kill".

An earlier version of this story suggested Michelito Lagravere might have achieved a Guinness World Record. In fact Guinness World Records says it was not aware the event was taking place, and will not recognise the result as it does not accept records based on the killing or harming of animals.

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