It will be a homecoming of sorts for Blooming Grove resident and professional bull rider McKennon Wimberly as he joins some of the top PBR riders from around the country in the Iron Cowboy Invitational Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Wimberly enters the field of 24 riders as the No. 14 seed in the first ever bracket-style competition in PBR history. To coincide with the big event, the first PBR event at Cowboys Stadium, the winner will take home the largest single day cash prize in PBR history.
Prepping for the event Wimberly has spent his time working locally at Eagles Boxing Gym in Waxahachie with trainer J.B. Hurd.
“I have always said that bull riding and boxing are a lot alike,” Wimberly said. “A lot of people don’t realize it but when you get on a bull you have got to give it everything you got. You have got to fight pretty much. It is like eight seconds of the worst fight you have ever been in. You are scratching, fighting and clawing the whole time to ride a bull and you have to keep good focus and be in shape to have good stamina. Boxing is all the same. You have got to stay focused, always watch your opponent and fight like heck to win.”
A professional athlete in one of the world’s fastest growing sports, the Texas native has always been a boxing fan and after spending time boxing in Weatherford found Hurd and Eagles Boxing Gym.
“I have been boxing for about five years and I moved down here and I was looking for a gym to box at. I got on the Internet and found Eagles Boxing Gym. I came over here, met J.B. and enjoyed the heck out of my workout. He helps me to figure out workouts that help me with my bull riding too. We work together pretty good.”
Coincidently the gym Wimberly used to work out at in Weatherford was led by Hurd’s Texas State teammate when the two were involved in amateur boxing.
Working out at Eagles for about nine months the bull rider is looking forward to his first time to step foot in the stadium and being a part of the first true cowboy style event, bull riding, at Cowboys Stadium.
“It is going to be awesome. They have every big event they can have there. Next year they will be having the Super Bowl and it’s a privilege for the PBR to be there. Bull riding and rodeo has grown so much. My dad rode bulls and from his time to where we are now it has grown tremendously,” the 21-year old said. “For us to ride in a big stadium like that it is going to be awesome.”
Not worried about the size or history behind the ride at the new stadium Wimberly said he feels good and has been practicing hard preparing to win the event.
Since the stadium is so close it home he expects a lot of family and friends to attend the event and cheer him on to victory.
“I look forward to going over there, getting on five bulls and going at it. A lot of the guys are older and out of shape so that is going to be great for me as I am younger and in shape,” he said.
He is looking forward to the bracket style competition and thinks that it will help draw more interest to the sport as it continues to grow.
“The thing is, in bull riding all of us are friends. Every weekend we ride against our bull but we try to win. The bracket is going to put us riding against each other. It will put a little more competition in there. I like the bracket system, it is pretty cool. It is going to help our sport get bigger because they are making it kind of like other sports. I have gotten to see which bulls I am going to be getting on and have gone back and studied the videos of past rides. I am happy with the bulls I got, not worried about my competition and ready to ride.”
Wimberly opens with “Flashpoint,” a bull he rode in Baltimore a year ago, in competition against Brian Canter. He believes based on previous experience with the bull he should be able to pull in a score of 90 in Arlington.
PBRnow.com predicts that Wimberly will advance three rounds deep in the tournament.
“A year ago no one was predicting me to go that deep but I am predicting myself to win it,” he said. “I have got a bunch of people betting on me to win it; I am going to be a rich man come Sunday. I’m not just going three rounds, if I get on three then I am getting on five. The whole gym and all my family is coming. No one else is going to have any fans there they are all going to be my people. It is always good when you have fans and friends there. You have to impress them.”
Gary Allan kicks off the Dickies Iron Cowboy invitational with a one-time-only concert for the PBR. Tickets start at $20. The event starts at 6:50 p.m. with the concert followed by the bull riding.