Michelito, the child matador by Pilar Rahola

This is not an article about bullfighting, however it describes the killing of bulls. This is an article about childhood, about the violation of a boy’s rights that are exploited commercially and celebrated publicly, about an apathetic administration that sits idly by when this violation takes place, about a father’s nefariousness over his son and degrading him to a source of income.

This is an article about blessed mortals who visit a plaza (a bullfighting ring) to joyfully watch a child who takes the risk, to be amused by the dark perversity to see a child in front of a bull and to shed crocodile tears if the bull takes the child on its horns.


Michelito Lagravere. Taken Plaza Monumental de Playas de Tijuana, Mexico Verano 2009 – Poncho Equihua (CC BY license).

And it is an article about the bullfighting critics who give it all the cheers in the world. His last bullfight in Cali which sent the 12-year-old, who has been a matador since he was ten, to hospital, to give but one example: “It was all about rotating and dodging, if not running to evade an attack. Tripping, he had to stab four times until the sword of death hit properly.”

The bull had been sufficiently weakened by its wounds and its horns had been shaved. But still a young bull weighing 306 kg was able to inflict injuries on Michelito. Sadly, this had not been the first time Michelito was taken on the horns. Once, in Lima [Peru], he got badly injured and some bullfighting critics argued that the boy was unable to fight a bull and that he should be demoted to the rank of becerristas (bullfighting apprentice) and return to a bullfighting school.

In the meantime, however, he acted like the goose that lays golden eggs in the bull rings in Latin America, making his his father happy, who sensed the business deal of his life in Michelito. The child matador also raised expectations in some fighting bull breeders and the audience watching this kind of violent event was literally drooling.

There are other boys like him, in this glorification of barbarism, and a child bullfight was announced to commemorate the anniversary of the arena in Mexico. The only conclusion you can draw from these enthusiastically announced news is that the world has gone mad. And of course awful and cruel, too.

And let’s not think about the world on the other side of the Atlantic, but remind ourselves that [the matador El] Juli came to “fame” exactly because he started fighting bulls at the age of 15 and became the youngest matador in history as a result. The world applauded him and rejoiced at his performance and celebrated the fact that a minor carries out such madness.

The question is: What do they cheer for? The risk that a minor takes? The imagination that such a gentle person thwarts a big animal? Do the applaud death? The problem is that we allow a 10-year-old to pursue a career as matador (butcher) and applaud his attacks on bulls. All of that is dirty, sad and perverse.

But then, what can you expect from a spectacle that is based on torture and death?

This article is re-published courtesy of Pilar Rahola
Translation by Caroline Waggershauser and Florian Leppla


About Florian Leppla

A campaigner against bullfighting
This entry was posted in Guest blog, international and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Michelito, the child matador by Pilar Rahola

  1. The League Against Cruel Sports, which campaigns against violent sports such as bullfighting, shooting and fox hunting, said it was ‘disappointed’ to see the Earl of Wessex wearing the tie patterned with matadors when he opened Liverpool’s new Central Library earlier this year.

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