Sage Kimzey made his first million at age 22, eight seconds at a time on the backs of bucking bulls, to become the youngest millionaire ever in rodeo. A Wrangler Ambassador, Kimzey is now 23 and aiming for his fifth consecutive world championship bull riding title. He’s also relocated from Oklahoma to Salado, in the heart of the robust Texas rodeo circuit. TM Rodeo Report visited with Kimzey about his new locale and the rodeo season.
How are you liking Texas?
Texas is such a good place to rodeo out of, right in the middle of the everything. All the big winter rodeos are around here. It definitely makes it easy.
How do you physically prepare for bull riding?
The big things I work on [in the gym] are flexibility and pliability, anything to help limit injuries and to be able to bounce back as quickly as possible when you do get hurt. Bull riding is dangerous. These are 1,800-pound, trained animal athletes. If you try to go mano a mano in a strength contest, the bull is going to win every time. I like to say that bull riding, when it’s done right, is like a finely tuned dance.
What does your pre-ride prep look like?
In a sport with so many variables, anything I can control, I’m going to, starting with my putting my right boot on first, always. I’m big into sports psychology. My being very systematic and a perfectionist when I’m getting ready raises my consistency level, and that’s the name of the game.
What’s your typical rodeo season like?
The schedule is pretty intense. In an average year, I’ll spend 175 days on the road and ride 200 head of livestock. Summer is our peak rodeo time, of course, and where the big money is won. I leave out for Reno in the middle of June and I’m away until after Pendleton in mid-September.
Do you have a mentor?
I have too many to even count. But when I was 14 or 15, I went to Gary Leffew’s Bull Riding School. He was the 1970 champion and is considered one of the top bull riding instructors. He’s been my coach since I was 17. My relationship with Gary has been incredible. There are a lot of guys who don’t have that and that definitely makes it a lot tougher.
Are there any specific rodeos you’re looking forward to this summer?
There are probably 10 to 15 major, iconic rodeos that are just timeless and every cowboy growing up really wants to win, and there’s only two of those that I haven’t won so far: Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Salinas, California. They’re the ones that are waiting in the wind.
You’ve earned a lot of money. Have you splurged on anything special?
I try to be pretty smart with my money. I’m making a lot right now, but the career expectancy for a bull rider is not exactly forever. The only thing I’ve really splurged on is my dream car: a white Corvette with red interior. I got the chance to buy one and I love it. It’s everything I ever thought it would be.