As the days are counting down to the WNFR 2019, we had a chance to catch up with Weston Rutkowski before he heads to Vegas for the Bullfighter’s Only Championship. This will be the third year that the Championships will be held at the Tropicana right on the Las Vegas strip. With so much to do, the championships are one thing that you absolutely need to make time for. You can check out their website for their full schedule.
CLN: Can you tell our audience a little about yourself? (Background, your history with BFO, etc.)
Weston: Well if you ask me if I thought I’d be fighting bulls for a living when I was growing up I would’ve laughed at you. I grew up in a small, one-stoplight town called Haskell out in west Texas. Like most kids that grow up there, I played every sport there was to offer: football, basketball, baseball, track, and golf. In the summer mom would take us to “play day” rodeos and I guess you can say that’s where I realized Rodeo would always be a part of my life. My mom and uncles rodeoed hard in the ’70s and ’80s. My mom was Miss Rodeo Texas in ’76, my uncle Terry made the finals in the Bronc riding in ’79 and my uncle Keith won the senior national finals world title 3X. Growing up we always heard them swapping reride stories from all over the country and I was fascinated with it. That’s right about the time the PBR blew up on TV so naturally, I immediately wanted to become a bull rider. As I grew older that dream never really left me I just had put it on hold when I thought I could make it playing college football. After I graduated I went and tried out for Blinn College a Jr. College down in Brenham TX. I made the team but felt as if I would never get any playing time after meeting several of the guys. So I decided I’d go to Tarleton and start riding bulls again.
CLN: How did you get started in Bullfighting?
Weston: After about 4 years of getting on a ton of bulls, it never did click for me. I tried and tried but never could put it together. Then one day while practicing, a friend of mine, Clint Hopping, asked me to protect him while he got on this practice bull they had that was always pretty mean. It was just me and him so I told him, “yea I guess I’ll try.” He fell off and it just clicked, I saw the gap stepped in grabbed the bull, went through it he came at me I threw a fake and got out of there. Not knowing what I had just done Clint came up to me and said: “Do you know what you just did?” I said, “Nope, but that was awesome.”
He said you should try fighting bulls and the rest is pretty much history. That Sunday we had a jackpot and I got on the first bull and fought the rest of them and I’ve been addicted ever since. Fast forward to the BFO, I’ve been a part of it since Aaron Ferguson came up to me in Austin back in 2014 with the idea of his Bullfighter’s Only web page. From it being a one-stop-shop for anything and everything a bullfighter might need to the very first event the “Roughy Cup” in Las Vegas at the Cowboy Christmas in 2015. To it now being in its 4th full year of a season-long tour. I’ve been with him through it all and it’s crazy to me think just how far we’ve come. The sky is the limit for the BFO and I couldn’t be more proud to say when it’s all said and done that I was apart of the group of guys that stuck together and brought back the bullfights to the mainstream.
CLN: How do you prepare and practice for the BFO World Finals in Vegas?
Weston: I prepare for Las Vegas like a guy in the NFL would his first few weeks back in season with 2 a day workouts. I get up early and head to the gym focusing on speed, agility, stability, explosiveness, and conditioning. When I go back to the gym in the evenings I’m focusing on strength, power, core, and stability. I’m at my best when I’m physically beating my body day in and day out because mentally that helps me know I can fight as many as I have to in one day and still be standing at the end. There is a fine line of overworking and not reaching full potential. I like to walk on the line of overworking as much as possible so that I never doubt that I’m ready.
CLN: Would you say it’s as much a mental game as it is a physical game when it comes to Bullfighting?
Weston: Bullfighting is more of a mental game than physical every day of the week. Yes, you will get hurt and have to fight being injured in this line of work but if your mental game isn’t up for the task then you don’t stand a chance. It’s hard to truly explain how mental this sport is but my best example would be this, picture yourself having to walk into an arena knowing you have to fight some guy who has beat you up time and time again but in order to win you have to go through him. It’s not an easy thing to do but you have to tell yourself over and over that you are ready for this test. You’ve put in the time in the gym and it’s finally time to prove it. Your emotions can get the best of you if you let it but being able to overcome that is 99% of the task at hand.
CLN: How would you describe the BFO atmosphere, whether at the Finals or a general event?
Weston: The BFO Finals is unlike any event going on in Las Vegas. Yes, the atmosphere in the Thomas and Mac is surreal but that’s because there are 17,000 plus fans on top of you. To me, we match every bit of that and more in our small tent that holds maybe 2,000? Why? Because there is no greater test than man versus beast and we do that 9 to 12 times a day. People don’t really understand how much power a fighting bull has until they are at an event and feel the stands shake because a bull is hitting a panel in the back. Add that all in with the best freestyle bullfighters in the world fighting it out for a world championship and you have the best show on dirt. Period no questions asked.
CLN: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into Bullfighting?
Weston: If I were a kid and wanted to get into bullfighting my first advice would be this: 1. Find a legitimate school and learn the basics. 2. Find a job that surrounds yourself with cattle. Learn how they move, think and act even when not it an arena. 3. Find a gym. Find a trainer and learn how to better yourself. 4. Get involved in every sport you can. All the different sports will make you a better athlete and teach you things that a practice dummy can’t.
CLN: What’s your “Why”? (Your mission behind being a World Champion Bullfighter, what drives and motivates you…etc.)
Weston: My “why”…I’m afraid of not becoming all that I can be. A bull will tell you when you did things right and when you didn’t. This sport isn’t something that comes easy and stays with you for the rest of your career. It will constantly demand discipline from you to do the little things right every day. I’ve found peace in the constant battle it takes to perform at a high level, it’s a constant reminder to myself not only as an athlete but as man, that in order to succeed you must be willing to work harder than anyone else. When I first started this profession my goal was to become the greatest to ever put on cleats and it hasn’t changed since.
CLN: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Weston: In 5 years I see myself holding up my 8th World Title.
CLN: Is there anything you’d like to add or close the interview with?
Weston: I want to say thank you to Bullfighter’s Only for creating a whole new avenue for kids who want to fight bulls but can’t seem to break the mold of getting hired for rodeos. For creating a new way to view the sport in the public eye and most of all for creating a way for guys like myself to make a living doing what we love.
First of all, we want to give a huge shout out to Weston for giving us some of his time and shedding some light on the life of a Champion Bullfighter. Second, from the whole CLN crew, we can’t wait to catch you out at the Tropicana during the BFO Championships! We wish you the best of luck! For those of you who are just tuning into bullfighting and all that is Weston Rutowski, you can catch a sweet mini-documentary below to get you all caught up. We will see YOU at the BFO Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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