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A sport honed in Mexico and Texas Bull riding ain’t for sissies

Bull riding. No, thanks, although I did think about doing it once when I was a teenager and had no brain. My mom usually hardly ever said no to any of the crazy stuff I did, but she put her foot down on that one, pardon the pun. Broken bones, legs, cracked ribs, severed fingers, missing teeth, cracked skulls, bull riding tops football. Rugby, maybe not so much. Actually, I always ranked rugby above football in terms of violence and heavy hitting. Not to mention the number of concussions per season; but in terms of all-out insanity, bull riding has to win the prize. Most of the rodeo cowboys are pretty slender dudes. Wiry, tough as nails. The singer, Jewel, married a rodeo cowboy, Ty Murray, who just happens to be nine-time world champion. I saw Jewel interviewed one time talking about how she and her husband were at a party, and some drunk guy said something insulting to her, and her husband, Ty Murray, just reached up very quietly and grabbed the guy by his larynx and squeezed. Shut up pretty quick. That’s a cowboy for you. If you look at Murray, though, take away his hat, he looks like some junior accountant even though he’s a nine-time rodeo champ. That takes some you-know-what. Murray’s got rodeo blood in him, which probably accounts for his greatness. His mother won first place in the national Little Britches Rodeo Bull Riding Competition; and his dad was a rodeo cowboy with some success behind him. Plus, as a kid, Murray was mentored by then-world champion bull rider and all-around cowboy Larry Mahan. Over the course of his career, Murray’s been busted up by more bulls than you can count. Today, he’s the co-founder and board advisor of the Professional Bull Riders, which is what you see most of the time now on cable TV. For a long time, bull riding has been referred to as the “most dangerous 8 seconds in sports.” Eight seconds on the back of a bronc’n bull, weighing on average, one full ton, 2,000 pounds, and his sole mission in life is to hurt you; and hurt you bad. He’s got a bad set of horns and hoofs that can scalp a man. Within the span of about three minutes watching it recently one Saturday afternoon, I saw two broken arms, with the sort of flapping action on the playback that didn’t even look real. How many cowboys ...

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