For the very first time in the Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR) history, top-ranked bull riding athletes got to compete on Maui. On Nov. 10 and 11, men from Australia, Brazil and even Texas rode bulls at the Myron Duarte Maui Challenge at War Memorial Stadium.
Replacing wax with rosin, they approached bull riding with the same love that a local surfer might prepare a board. This makes sense, as bull riders in general are as hard to grasp as our local surfers. They tend to stick to themselves due to the fact that they are not often understood by the outside world. Both seem to be chasing that perfect ride.
The two-time world champion, Chris Shivers, has surpassed the $3 million mark in career earnings, making him the first person in bull riding history to reach this mark. “Just kinda grew up around it,” he said with a knife-like look in his eyes when I asked him how he got started. “The opportunity was there for me, I could ride as many bulls in one day as I wanted. All I needed to do was take advantage of it. This is my life; it’s where I have my everything. If I quit right now I wouldn’t be happy the rest of my life.”
During the competition I was up against the fence taking pictures, literally dodging bullshit as it was kicked up towards the gate where I was on the brink of risk. Because I was so close to the action, I could really feel the thrill. But I was still curious why any human would want to get on the back of a bucking bull.
“Big hopes, big dreams!” Shivers said. “I would rather go with pride in the front of 10,000 people than die in a car wreck. The only fear I have is the fear of losing. No one wants to lose.”
Later, during the after-party at Cheeseburger Island Style in the Shops at Wailea I sat with riders Rob Bell and Thomas Taylor, who has a scar under the left side of his jaw from a bull’s horn. Both agreed that riders aren’t in it for the money. Taylor, a breeder who’s responsible for “Taylor Made Bucking Bulls,” has been Bell’s advisor for many years.
“Not only because he rides so well, but also because of the obstacles he has overcome to get where he is today.” Taylor said. “Believing is everything. He is going to the top!”
Bell has impressed bull riding fans since he rode his first calf at age two. He won his first buckle at that event. By age 15, he was riding big bulls and competing in rodeos.
“Ninety-five percent of the guys who get into it for the money don’t ride any longer because they lost the desire to do it,” he said. “For most here in PBR land, the heart is what leads them on. Take away the title, and nothing would change.” MTW