Cowboys from across the country are headed to Tulsa for a weekend of professional bull riding at the BOK Center.
The PBR's Unleash the Beast is Saturday and Sunday, but crews were already inside the BOK early Friday morning getting everything ready for the weekend.
40 of the world's best bull riders will take on some of the toughest bulls on the planet in their quest to make it to the world championship.
But the bull riders aren’t the only athletes to watch for in the arena. The bull fighters are also a big part of the process.
“It's our job to distract them. Get them where they're supposed to be,” said Oklahoma bullfighter, Frank Newsom. [We watch the] bull’s behavior, whatever they're doing, if there's something's wrong, we go deal with it.”
Their sole job is to protect the riders every night. When the rider comes off the bull, the fighters jump in to distract the bull and keep them away from the rider.
“Some nights the bulls are just a little bit more fiery and they have what we call, 'they've got it on their mind' like they're wanting to hit somebody, they're wanting to do some damage. That's when we have to step up and do our very best,” said Oklahoma bullfighter, Frank Newsom. “A bull can run straight a lot faster than we can. If we can keep 'em, what we call bent, keep 'em turning in a sharp area, inside a tight, tight circle, then that gives us the advantage."
46-year-old Newsom, from Paoli, Oklahoma, is one of the best bullfighters in the world. He said bullfighting has been in his blood since he was a teenager.
“I just wanted to outwork everybody. I wanted to work as hard as I could and show up and do my best and be the best,” said Newsom. “I had a love for it and I tried to ride bulls first and I had a lot of drive, but I wasn't very good at it and we would take turns saving each other and I just knew that was my spot. And once I knew that, then it was just kind of an overwhelming feeling that I want to devote my life to this.”
And he has done just that, bullfighting has been his career for 29 years. He's broken a lot of bones, had several concussions and surgeries, but he’s not ready to give it up.
“Even now, as I'm getting older, especially in our world, I'm definitely one of the older guys and I know time… that's one thing nobody gets away from, so I know that the end of my career's getting closer,” he said. “But I still want to do a really good job. Go out on my terms, if I can and step down whenever I'm ready.”
Newsom will be fighting bulls at the PBR in Tulsa this weekend and so will 29-year-old Cody Webster, who's from Wayne, Oklahoma. The two cowboys have a special connection.
Webster was 11 years old when he showed up at Frank's house saying he wanted to be a bullfighter.
“He just had that fire in his eyes,” said Newsom.
Newsom took the young cowboy under his wing and trained with him every day.
“I started working with and I was pretty hard on him. I remember the first day, we used a bullfighting dummy. It's kind of similar to a wheelbarrow, but it's made especially for fighting bulls, for practicing,” said Newsom. “I push him over pretty good and I could tell it hurt him a little bit and I'm like, 'well, are you ready to quit?' And he was like, 'No, sir.' He never wanted to quit. You could always tell, even at that young at that he had that desire.”
All the hard work paid off because Webster started bullfighting professionally at 17, the same age Newsom was at the start of his professional career.
And now the two get to share their passion for bullfighting at the highest level, the PBR.
“He worked as hard as anybody I've ever seen. And he's one of the best in the world now. And it's just cool to see that. So whenever I'm in the arena with him, it's kind of like family, ya know. And there's nobody I'd rather be in the arena with,” Newsom said.
You can see Newsom and Webster this weekend at the BOK Center. To buy tickets Click Here.