Young bullfighter to celebrate his 21st during BFO stop at Kitsap County Fair, Stampede
BREMERTON, Wash. – For many young people, a 21st birthday is cause for celebration and for an outrageous party.
Schell Apple isn’t like most people his age. He plans to celebrate a few days early by standing toe-to-toe with a fighting bull during the Bullfighters Only tour stop Friday held in conjunction with the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede in Bremerton.
It’s the perfect way to ring in such an anniversary for the young man from Fay, Okla., who attends Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
“I’ve been fighting bulls since I was about 14,” Apple said. “I actually think the bullfight in Bremerton will be exactly seven years to the day that I first started, which was actually a few days before my 14th birthday.”
While he’s still young, the Oklahoman is a veteran in the game and has been recognized as one of the top 15 bullfighters in the game. He will be matched with a couple of other veteran bullfighters – Cody Webster of Wayne, Okla., and Ross Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala. – during the three-man freestyle bullfight in Bremerton.
“I think it’s really cool to be able to travel to prestigious rodeos like that and to be able to perform in front of crowds like that and showcase the abilities God has given me,” Apple said.
That’s what true athletic competition is like in any arena, especially in the case of Bullfighters Only. In fact, the men themselves were the guiding force behind the creation of Bullfighters Only. It was developed a little more than a year ago, and it has seen rapid growth. That’s been a good thing for the BFO and the bullfighters.
“It has taken off ridiculously fast,” he said of the BFO. “I didn’t know a company could get this much momentum so fast. I think it’s awesome.
“Basically we had a website to sell products. Someone had an idea to put on a bullfight, so we booked a venue in Las Vegas. That tone event in Vegas is what lined up the other 30 events of this tour.”
Now it its inaugural season, Bullfighters Only will crown its first world champion later this year. Bremerton is just one of the many stops along the way to deciding which man will earn that title.
“I have not been in the lead all summer,” said Hill, the No. 4 man in the BFO standings. “I’d like to jump myself up there. My mission is to ease into that first-place spot and put a little heat on them.”
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.
Hill won this past weekend in Gooding, Idaho, so he hopes to parlay that a solid run to close out the season. Webster won last week in Caldwell, Idaho, to add to his victory run; he is third in the standings.
“I’ve never been to Bremerton,” Webster said. “It’s definitely one of the top rodeos in the sport. We’ll just go out there and do what we do everywhere else, and that’s put on a show for everyone to enjoy.”
When it’s a battle of man vs. beast, the bull has the upper hand. That’s why the bullfighters volley with their own athleticism and maneuvers that keep them close to the action and just out of harm’s way.
Combined, the danger, the excitement and the speed of a 40- to 60-second fight is an incredible display that fans have enjoyed all season.
“I think we as Bullfighters Only have put freestyle bullfighting on a whole new level and on a whole other platform,” Apple said. “Back when they had the Wrangler Bullfights 16 years ago, it was pretty awesome. I think we’ve brought it up to a whole new speed. It’s almost an acrobatic sport now.
“It’s fun what we’re doing and how we’re all feeding off one another. Now we’re doing flips over bulls. We’ve stepped it up to a whole new level, and it’s just going to keep going up.”