Illinois man hoping to climb new heights chasing BFO world championship
LAS VEGAS – Toby Inman isn’t a man of danger, but it seems to lurk around every corner he turns.
It’s how he makes a living, whether as a bullfighter or with Toby’s Tree Service, a business he owns in his hometown of Davis Junction, Ill. He faces danger from towering heights trimming trees, and he looks at it square in the eyes as he maneuvers within inches of the raging horns of powerfully agile beasts.
He’s pretty good at both. He is the No. 2 man in the Pendleton Whisky World Standings heading into the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, set for 2 p.m. Dec. 7-10 and 13-16 at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
“I’m the old guy, and the old guy still wants to win,” said Inman, 34, who came out of retirement a little more than a year ago to be part of the BFO. “I don’t have anything to prove, but to come back and jump in without training wheels, I’m pretty proud of myself.”
He should be. Over the course of the 2017 season, Inman earned several key victories and placed well at other stops en route to earning more than $25,000. He can more than double his season earnings in Sin City, with the Las Vegas Championship winner pocketing $25,000. With that, he can overtake the season leader, Weston Rutkowski, and has a chance to pocket the $50,000 bonus paid out to the BFO world champion.
“The money doesn’t necessarily motivate me; fighting bulls motivates me,” he said. “Vegas and the finals motivates me. I’m just excited to be a participant and be a top contender at my age. I definitely don’t show it a lot, but I still grin ear to ear, and it’s because of that. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Inman has earned that chance. A decade ago, he was one of the top freestyle bullfighters in the game. He stepped away from it for about six years to focus on his business in Illinois, but Bullfighters Only not only got him back to work in the arena, it sparked a focus.
He has long been recognized as one of the smoothest men in freestyle bullfighting. He makes moves around the athletic bulls with ease, and his tall frame and equally athletic talent allow him to score big points.
He is one of nine top bullfighters who will compete in the third annual Roughy Cup to kickstart the Las Vegas festivities Thursday. All nine advance to the Las Vegas Championship, which begins Dec. 10, while 27 other men will try to earn their place through three days of qualifiers.
“I’m excited because fans continue to help us reach our initial goal, which is making freestyle bullfighting a mainstream event,” Inman said. “We’re able to do this because of the fans.”
Of course, having an opportunity at the big cash in Vegas doesn’t hurt either.
“I’ve got skid loaders and other things on my Christmas list that I’ve got to buy for myself,” he said with a laugh. “For the most part, though, I still like to do it and have fun with it.
“It’s exciting that my friends and family – and even new fans – get to see my progression. They can see that I still enjoy it and can still do it well.”
He has plenty of reasons to be happy with where he is, whether it’s atop a tree or jumping a fighting bull.
BFO’s Seeded Bullfighters
Las Vegas Championship Schedule
All performances begin at 2 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 7: Roughy Cup – a stand-alone competition featuring the top nine athletes in the BFO. The event has become a staple for BFO fans.
Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 10: Qualifier Rounds – An open door for the sport’s rising talent, providing a chance to compete at the elite level. Nine of the 27 bullfighters competing will advance to the Preliminary Rounds.
Wednesday, Dec. 13-Thursday Dec. 14: Preliminary Rounds – Winners from each performance advance to Championship Saturday.
Friday, Dec. 15: Wild Card Round – Bullfighters will get one final chance to advance to Championship Saturday.
Saturday, Dec. 16: The 2017 BFO world champion will be crowned at the completion of a 9-man semifinals, followed by the 3-man Hooey Championship Round.