CODY, Wyo. – Before Dusty Tuckness embarked on a bullfighting career, he was a boy growing up in Meeteetse, Wyo., hoping to be one of the best ever.
His dreams are coming true.
Tuckness will share his passion and showcase his incredible talents throughout the Cody Stampede, just as he has done every year since 2007. He will step it up even more Thursday during the Bullfighters Only freestyle bullfight that runs in conjunction with the Cody/Yellowstone Xtreme Bulls. The action-packed evening will begin at 8 p.m. MST.
“It’s awesome to be able to work that rodeo but also the fact that we’re bringing freestyle bullfighting back to Cody,” said Tuckness, the reigning six-time Bullfighter of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “Having Bullfighters Only involved and having the best bullfighters in the world there just makes it even better.
“It’s one of the best rodeos all year long.”
Tuckness will be one of five men that are part of the competition. They will be matched against speedy, agile and aggressive fighting bulls that have been bred specifically for this type of competition.
“I worked that rodeo last year for the first time,” said Cody Webster of Wayne, Okla., who won the BFO’s first stand-alone freestyle bullfight Sunday night near Austin, Texas. “The Cody Stampede is something else. It has packed crowds, and it’s wild.
“Now we get to have an awesome bullfight to go with it.”
Bullfighters Only is still in its infancy. In fact, the organization just celebrated its first year in existence, and, oh, how that toddler has grown in such a short amount of time.
The tour was established, and the Cody Stampede will be the 15th of more than 30 stops through the regular season. Freestyle bullfighting is not new to rodeo, and the Bullfighters Only has created public demand for the sport. The events feature man vs. beast in a head-to-head battle inside an arena. The bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls.
“I’ve had one of my stand-alone freestyle bullfights there before, and they really liked and enjoyed it,” Tuckness said. “Now we’re stepping it up a notch with Bullfighters Only. We’re bringing in (Darrell Diefenbach’s) 12X Fighting Bulls. It’s going to be the best freestyle athletes going.”
That makes for quite a show.
With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.
The growth of the BFO has been phenomenal. It features the top 15 in the sport and has reached more than 50 million people through its Facebook page with more than 12 million video views. It’s Instagram page has more than 51,000 engaged followers. Bullfighters Only paid out more than $140,000 to the contestants that play the game.
The buzz has continued to build. That’s why many of the most prestigious events in ProRodeo are on the BFO tour schedule. Events with that much history stand as proof to the incredible showcase that is out there for the Bullfighters Only athletes.
“We’re trying to grow the sport and bring it back to the main stage,” Tuckness said. “We’ve got a great group of guys and great support. The fan base is growing.
“There’s just so much excitement to freestyle bullfighting. It’s an event that hasn’t had a true world champion since 2000. Bullfighters Only is bringing that back while also keeping an eye out for the young talent. We want the best of the best. The main stage is where it belongs. The energy and the level of excitement is second to none.”
Dusty Tuckness, Meeteetse, Wyo.
Nate Jestes, Douglas, Wyo.
Cody Webster, Wayne, Okla.
Weston Rutkowski, Haskell, Texas
Chuck Swisher, Dover, Okla.