MEXICO CITY — An 11-year-old bullfighter in Mexico may have set a record by slaying six young bulls in one appearance, but you won’t see his name in the Guinness World Records book.
According to Mexico’s National Association of Matadors, Michel “Michelito” Lagravere set the international record at his age for bull calves killed in a two-hour bullfight watched by more than 3,500 people.
But Guinness World Records says it was not aware the event was taking place and will not recognize the result.
“We do not accept records based on the killing or harming of animals,” Guinness said on its Web site.
Michelito, who turned 11 in December, took the news in stride on Wednesday.
“It’s all the same to me because in the world of bullfighting the record is now part of history, although it may not be for Guinness,” he said.
The tiny torero, 4 feet 5 inches tall and 77 pounds, has taken on bulls weighing over 600 pounds. Last year, he become the symbol of a debate much bigger than himself during a trip to France, where anti-bullfighting campaigners complained loudly that the boy was risking his life in the ring.
Mexico has no minimum age for bullfighting, although by law children are supposed to be closely supervised as they advance from nonlethal exhibitions with small calves to full-fledged lethal bullfights.
The lack of age limits and a trend toward younger bullfighters has drawn young aspirants from abroad to Mexico, including one Spanish bullfighter, Jairo Miguel, who was nearly gored to death in 2007 at age 14 when a 910-pound bull rushed him at top speed and punctured his lung.
A child welfare law enacted last year in Michelito’s home state led authorities to briefly suspend Saturday’s landmark bullfight. Investigators allowed the show to go on, but the Yucatan state Human Rights Commission said it still has concerns.
“It’s a latent risk that he doesn’t have the maturity and the physical strength to do these kinds of activities,” said Guadalupe Sosa Escobedo, spokeswoman for the commission.
Michelito’s parents — a professional bullfighter from France who runs a matador school and a Mexican mother who manages a chain of bullfighting arenas — say years of practice and a cool demeanor allow their son to bullfight responsibly against bull calves.