Photos: Michelito Lagravere Peniche becomes World's Youngest Matador at 14 [PHOTOS]
By Gianluca Mezzofiore | Nov 26, 2012 06:54 PM EDT
Michael Lagravere Peniche, nicknamed Michelito, faced his first bull in the ring when he was just first five years old.
His father Michel is a retired matador and Michelito's destiny was mapped out: he would become the youngest matador of all time.
On Sunday, Michelito fulfilled his and his father's dream by killing a bull at the Plaza Monumental bullring in Merida, Mexico, just one week before his 15th birthday.
Pictures show him holding up the ear he received for killing a bull.
In November 2009, Michelito became the youngest novillero, or semi-professional bullfighter, in the world, fighting bulls weighing up to 370kg. Michelito was already famous when he was just 10, appearing on TV and in newspapers.
In Spain, it is illegal to kill a bull until you are 16 but in Mexico children as young as six train to become bullfighters.
They start as becerristas or calf-fighters, progressing to become novilleros. Only a few of them make it to become full matadors before they reach their 20s. A superstar matador can earn as much as £335,000 for just one fight.
"It's fun," he told the Guardian. "You get to know people. I'm almost always in an aeroplane.
"If I want to debut as a novillero at 11 and [graduate as a matador] at 14, I have to get used to the big rings, to the competition," he said.
"Ever since I was young, lots of bullfighters visited my house and I went with my dad to the fights," he said, in another interview with the Daily Mail.
"That's how I developed a taste for bullfighting."
In 2009, he spurred controversy by killing of six young bulls in Merida. Peta and other animal rights groups as well as child protection officials had previously asked Mexico's human rights commission to suspend the event - without success.
Despite the protests, 3,500 people, including children, gathered to witness the bullfight.
Mexican matador Michelito Lagravere performs a pass during a bullfight at the Plaza Monumental bullring in MeridaSource: Reuters
Mexican bullfighter Michelito Lagravere prays in a chapel at the Plaza Monumental bullring in MeridaSource: Reuters
A plaque marks Michelito Lagravere's extraordinary storySource: Reuters
Standoff for Michelito LagravereSource: Reuters
Michelito holds the ear aloft as a mark of his triumphSource: Reuters