Fans bullish on this extreme sport
|||Maui native prospers as rider|
By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
By Christie Wilson
Bull riding isn't just for cowboys anymore. The event has busted out of the rodeo arena as an extreme sport that is lassoing big crowds in the stands and on TV.
Bull riders are strapped onto a 2,000-pound animal for a bone-jarring eight-second ride. The Professional Bull Riders group calls it "The Toughest Sport on Dirt."
The PBR yesterday announced its first-ever Hawai'i events, Nov. 10 and 11 on Maui and Nov. 17 and 18 at Blaisdell Arena in Ho-nolulu. The O'ahu contest will be the final event of the group's 2006 season and is being billed as a Pro Bowl for bull riders — an all-star event for the world's best bull riders, including Chris Shivers, who has claimed $3 million in tour winnings.
Some of the sport's top bulls also will be brought to Hawai'i for the events.
The Valley Isle contest is named the Myron Duarte Maui Challenge in honor of the PBR veteran and Maui native who this month surpassed $1 million in career earnings.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, who hosted yesterday's news conference announcing the Hawai'i events, said he believes bull riding will draw bigger crowds than the Hula Bowl college all-star football game, which had an eight-year run at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku before low attendance and other factors brought it back to O'ahu this year.
"There are a lot of people who like the cowboy life and rodeo events," he said.
A location has not been selected. Arakawa said the county is not committed to providing funding for the event, which is being sponsored locally by Peter Baldwin and his Pi'iholo Ranch in Makawao.
The PBR was formed in 1992 by 20 top bull riders who wanted to highlight their sport and break out from traditional seven-event rodeos. The tour features 45 bull riders in its weekly Built Ford Tough Series, with hundreds more competing in three other tours.
PBR Chief Operating Officer Sean Gleason said bull riding's popularity has grown well beyond the cowboy states to a diverse audience. Some 150 PBR events are held annually in New England and on the West Coast and most everywhere in between. The association also has operations in Brazil, Australia, Mexico and Canada.
Last year the PBR sold 1.1 million tickets and was featured on 500 hours of television that was seen by nearly 85 million viewers, according to Gleason.
Promoters are still making arrangements for both Hawai'i events, with more information on ticket prices and other details will be provided later.
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