Some people will call four-time bull riding world champion Sage Kimzey crazy for getting on the back of a 1,500-pound bull. Kimzey agrees that might be true, but says the crazier performers are the men that participate in freestyle bullfighting.
"The safest spot around a bull is on top of them, and they want to get in front of one that wants to hook them," Kimzey said. "They are crazier then we are."
For four straight nights, the bullfighters will be showing off their skills inside the George H. Henderson Expo Center. The event is part of the Angelina Benefit Rodeo.
"It is one of the most extreme sports in pro rodeo," Evan Allard said. "One man versus one fighting bull. It is a bull that don't buck. He don't anything but fight. He is born and bred to fight."
The object of the event is to get the best score of the night. The way to do it is to get as close to the bull as possible and run out the clock. it is easier said than done.
"It is a Spanish-bred fighting bull running at you 30 mph," Dakota Knight said. "They are wanting to hurt you. Everybody has that fear factor in their heart when they step into the arena to do this, and if they don't, then you are pretty much plum crazy because it is a bull that is trying to physically kill you, and he is doing his best to hurt you. "
While the thousands in attendance might see a flurry of chaos on the rodeo floor, the athletes look at it as a ballroom competition.
"You do a dance with a bull that is trying to kill you, and when you can take a bull that wants to kill you and control him, that is art right there," Allard said.
Dancing with a bull is a lot different than dancing with another human. There are consequences.
"I can't count my injuries," Allard said. "I have broke almost every bone. I have broke my legs. I have a broken back. I broke it in August, and I am still fighting that. I broke my neck twice."
With a chance of injury or death, many would question why do the sport. For the fighters, it is another day at the office.
"Yea maybe it is a little crazy, but there is something to be said about doing what you love to do," Allard said. "We are all going to die one day. That is a fact. I know I will be doing what I love until that day."
"It is something you love, and it pays the bills, so you have to keep on keeping on," Knight said. "You just have to work it hard at what you do. We love this sport, and we go out to give a good show for the crowd."
The Angelina Benefit Rodeo runs through Saturday night at the George H. Henderson Expo Center in Lufkin.
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