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On the day of his wife's funeral, Rafael Rosillo is ordered by Vargas, the chief accountant for Rafael's boss, millionaire ranch owner Don Alejandro Videgaray, to return a cow owned by the ranch. Despite the protestations of Rafael's ten-year-old son Leonardo, who states that Alejandro gave them the cow in gratitude for saving his life, Vargas insists that the ranch owns the cow and its soon-to-be-born calf. That night, a storm awakens Leonardo, who rushes outside to rescue the cow. Although he is too late to save her, he brings back to his bed her newborn calf. While his father and sister Maria admire the calf for his bravery, Leonardo names him "Gitano," meaning gypsy. The boy soon develops a strong bond with the similarly motherless youngster. In school, where he will be the first Rosillo ever to graduate, Leonardo learns about former Mexican president Benito Juarez, who rose from the lower classes but never forgot his roots. After class, the boy asks his teacher, Señorita Sanchez, to help him write a letter to Alejandro, reminding him that the cow was a gift. Over the next months, Gitano grows into a fine bull who loves to fight. One day, Rafael spots Leonardo using a red cape while playing with Gitano, and warns the boy not to train the bull to enjoy the cape, or he will become a killer in the bullfighting ring. Leonardo begs his father not to sell Gitano to the ring, but Rafael ignores him, confident that Leonardo will outgrow his childish attachment. Soon after, Vargas insists that Gitano be branded with the rest of the Videgaray herd, and Rafael is forced to assent. When Leonardo hears the news, he rushes to the ranch, shaming Rafael with his tears. Days later, however, Señorita Sanchez reveals that a letter has arrived from Alejandro that once again grants Gitano to the Rosillos. On the next holy day, Leonardo brings Gitano to be blessed by the priest, and after the bull kneels before the clergyman, he receives a double blessing. When Gitano is two years old, he is entered in a public test of bravery at Alejandro's ranch. Before the ceremony, Rafael promises Leonardo that if the bull proves himself courageous, the boy can keep him. Meanwhile, Alejandro invites the famous bullfighter Fermin Rivera and an American starlet, Marion Randall, to attend the tests with him. As they drive through the ranch, Gitano attacks their car, impressing them with his spirit. They are shocked when Leonardo, showing no fear of Gitano, forcibly pulls the bull away from the car, then rides away on his back. At the ceremony, Maria frets for the safety of her boyfriend, Manuel, who wants to be a bullfighter. As Alejandro tries to explain to Marion why bullfighting is noble rather than cruel, he is distracted by the sight of Gitano in the ring, easily outsmarting the matadors. Too strong for the local bullfighters, Gitano cannot be contained, and soon tramples Manuel. Leonardo is heartbroken, but as Manuel recovers, and Maria thanks her brother for curing him of his desire to be a matador. Over the next months, while Rivera wins the hearts of the Mexican people with his courage and grace in the ring, Alejandro wins trophies at his hobby, car racing. On the day of Leonardo's graduation, however, as Rafael celebrates in drunken pride, they learn that Alejandro has died in a car crash. The ranch possessions are soon put up for auction, and Vargas, who was impressed by Gitano in the ring, declares that the bull belongs to the ranch, as he bears the Videgaray brand. Leonardo searches for the letter from Alejandro but, unable to find it, is forced to let Vargas return Gitano to the herd. Late that night, Leonardo sneaks into the ranch and calls Gitano to him, then takes the bull back home through the woods. When he stops to sleep for the night, a mountain lion attacks, but Gitano kills it, saving the boy. At home, Rafael chastises Leonardo and convinces him to return the bull to Vargas, who sells Gitano at auction to businessman Dr. Gajona. Upon learning that the bulls will be driven to Mexico City, Leonardo secretly hitches a ride on one of the trucks. In the city, he is amazed by the culture and people, and horrified at the sight of the arena, where Gitano will surely be killed. Leonardo searches throughout the city for Gajona, to no avail. Desperate, the boy stops by a statue of Juarez and, remembering his teacher's words, is inspired to speak directly to El Presidente. He heads to Juarez's home, only to learn that the current president lives in the National Palace. As the fights begin in the Plaza de Mexico, an exhausted Leonardo finally reaches the palace and is allowed to see the president. After hearing the boy's story, the president agrees to write a letter asking Gajona to release the bull. A police escort rushes Leonardo to the arena, but he is too late; Gitano has entered the ring and now fights against Rivera. The fight is long, the bull performing bravely and Rivera fighting valiantly. The matador lances Gitano several times, but cannot kill him, as the bull holds his head too high to allow a stab to hit its mark. The crowd is soon entranced by Gitano, whom the announcer calls "the noblest bull ever," and begins to call for his release. Although no bull has been spared in the ring since 1937, the chant gains momentum, and the officials finally agree. Thrilled, Leonardo hops into the ring and runs toward Gitano. The crowd is horrified, certain that the furious beast will kill the boy, but Gitano approaches his friend peacefully. As Leonardo hugs Gitano, promising him that "now we can live," the crowd roars its approval.