Bull fighter Darryl Chong is sometime mistaken for a rodeo clown, but has one of the most serious jobs at next month’s Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo.
The current Professional (PBR) Australian Champion Bull Fighter and three-time Australian Champion Bull Fighter, along with Dan Roberts and Clint Kelly, make up the bull fighting team who protect the cowboys at the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere.
Also known as protection athletes, it’s no wonder bull fighters are regarded by cowboys as the guardian angels of the sport.
“Our job is to look after the fallen bull riders, take control of the bull and try to lead him away from the rider so he gets out safely,” says Darryl. “It’s pretty serious and we have to be prepared to take a hit so the rider doesn’t get tossed around.
“People look at us weirdly when I say I’m a bull fighter. They think I’m the funny guy in the arena but our job is pretty serious.”
The stars of Australia’s rodeo circuit – and thousands of visitors – will head to the north-west mining city of Mount Isa for this year’s event being held August 10 to 12.
And for Darryl, who was born in nearby Cloncurry, the Mount Isa rodeo is the biggest one the country has to offer.
“Everyone has heard of the Calgary Stampede, well the Mount Isa rodeo is the daddy of them all for Australia,” says Darryl. “It makes it more exciting for me because I am back where I came from, and this rodeo has the best atmosphere and feeling you can get. We have to be really on our game.”
Bull fighters wear shorts, jerseys, football boots and a Kevlar vest under their clothes, which offers limited protection. At 165cm and 72kg, Darryl says he expects to be injured but it doesn’t stop him driving hundreds of kilometres from Blackwater in central Queensland, where he works as a machinery operator at an open cut mine to work rodeos on the weekend.
“I’ve been knocked out, had a horn through my hand, torn tendons and a few broken fingers and toes,” he says. “We definitely put our body on the line. It’s our job to protect and we have to give it our best shot.”
Highlights of this year’s rodeo include three days of world-class arena action, plus entertainment headlined by Busby Marou, country singer Shea Fisher, Fred Brophy’s Outback boxing troupe, a Friday night mardi gras parade, a race meeting and bush poet breakfasts.
For accommodation and holiday ideas visit http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/destinations/outback/
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