Volume 91, Issue 51
Thursday, November 27, 1997
Mike the Knife
London is a bunch of bull: City to host inaugural rodeo competition
Graphic by Janice Olynich
By Alex Chiang
Bull riding in London? However farfetched the idea may sound, one organization is attempting to make inroads for the sport in the province, beginning with the inaugural Western Corral Bull Riding Competition to be held at the Western Fairgrounds' Ontario Arena this weekend.
Owned by Holly Kulmatycky, Chute'n Stars is an organization which operates out of Paris, Ontario and has been involved in bull riding and rodeo competitions since 1992.
"We want to expand [bull riding] as a sport in Ontario and in London," Kulmatycky said. "We hope it will become as popular as in the States and in the west."
The group has already staged five shows in the province, however this is the first time London has played host to such an event. Kulmatycky is confident there is a large enough market for the sport to succeed outside of the traditional bull-riding hotbeds.
"We've had a good response from other shows and we know there a lot of people who watch bull riding on television," Kulmatycky said.
For the London show, Kulmatycky's group has brought together 51 riders from Ontario, Quebec and the U.S., whose experience ranges from first-year competitors to 10th-year veterans.
The 27 bulls used are Indian brahma bulls, bred with either beef cows or cattle.
Unbeknownst to most people in the province, bull riding has been taking place here for quite some time with the Ontario Rodeo Association celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
"It's been a well kept secret," bull fighter Don Mole said. "It's getting more coverage and rodeo competitors are being recognized more as athletes.
"It's one of those sports like car racing where people watch just to see if people get hurt."
Mole's responsibility as a bull fighter or a clown, is to prepare the bulls so they perform well and to ensure the riders dismount safely.
Riders attempt to stay on the bull for eight seconds and are judged out of 100, with half the score based on how hard the bull bucks and the other half on the rider's control.
"I try to prepare mentally by thinking about what the bull's going to do," rider BJ Prince said. "I know all of the bulls and most have a certain pattern."
Prince, who has been riding bulls for two years and steers (which are about 1,000 pounds lighter) for five, said the possibility of getting seriously hurt in this potentially-dangerous sport is not his uttermost concern.
"For me it's not a fear of getting hurt, it's a fear of not doing well," he said. "I want to have a clear mind so I can let my reflexes take over."
A portion of the competition's proceeds will be donated to Big Brothers, a charity helping to provide role models for young boys.
Qualifying action will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and the finals will be held Sunday at 2 p.m.. Tickets can be purchased at the Western Fairgrounds Administration Office.
Graphic by Janice Olynich
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997