Canadian shines on the second day of BFO Las Vegas qualifier round
LAS VEGAS – The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America, with more than 200,000 members living in Canada. Tommy Whitebear of Maskwacis, Alberta, is one of them.
On Saturday afternoon, during the second day of qualifying for the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, Whitebear advanced to next week’s preliminary round, which will pay out more than $25,000 to the champion.
He is the only Canadian who has advanced so far, with Quebec’s JF Roch and Saskatchewan’s Jordynn Swanson sent packing in Round 1. Fellow Cree bullfighter Kris Buffalo takes center stage Saturday during the third and final round of qualifying at Tropicana Las Vegas.
“I came across a video of Bullfighters Only, and decided that this is what I wanted to do,” Whitebear said, describing his start in freestyle bullfighting.
It’s a good thing. He has now placed his hat in the ring among the best in the business.
“I can’t believe it right now,” he said. “It wasn’t even a year ago when I just wanted to be in Bullfighters Only, and now I get to go against the guys I have watched and studied.”
He is one of three bullfighters who advanced from Saturday’s qualifier; he is joined by Noah Krepps of Jasper, Ark., and Dustin Konig of Ault, Colo.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better bull,” said Krepps, who began his bout with a high-diving Superman. “The landing kind of knocked the air out of me. The bull worked out really well. I definitely think I could have pushed myself harder and pushed him harder though.
“You can’t get by making mistakes like that come next week.I love the opportunity I have. I think I’ve got as good a chance as the next man. You’ve got a great group of guys, so it’s a good time to shine.”
That’s what makes the qualifiers special. The final nine-man qualifier round is set to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Three more bullfighters will advance to next week’s BFO Las Vegas Championship, which begins Wednesday.
“I really didn’t think about the fight,” said Whitebear, who took plenty of punishment during his 60-second bout. “I was just going with what the bull was doing the best I could. I knew this was my only shot to make the BFO.”
Advancing to Las Vegas Championship
Dustin Konig; 82, Noah Krepps 81.5; and Tommy Whitebear; 77