Saving Bull Riders’ Lives
By: Justin Felisko
In a matter of milliseconds, 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi could have been gored by Well Hello during a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this year.
Instead, 42-year-old veteran bullfighter Frank Newsom acted on instinct before his mind could even process the situation.
Newsom pushed Marchi out of the way and stepped in to take a shot from Well Hello as Marchi stumbled to safety.
The brute force of the impact resulted in Newsom getting launched onto the back of the bucking chutes.
The fans inside Bridgestone Arena erupted in shock and awe.
Well, he just let out a smile once he hopped back onto the dirt after shoving the future PBR Hall of Famer to safety.
“Things got a little tight there by the chute with Guilherme,” Newsom said. “When he came off, the bull kind of spun around and was kind of looking for somebody. Guilherme was right there. I kind of just pushed him and the bull kind of gathered me up and pinched me up there. I landed on the chutes just right.
“It was one of them deals where everything worked just right and it looked cool.”
Marchi made sure to give Newsom a huge hug later that night and thanked Newsom for “saving his life.”
“Those guys are the best,” Marchi said. “They are right there to save us and help us. When the bull bucked me off, I got in a bad position. He was right there. He kind of pushed me and the bull came after him and catch him and threw him into the air. I am so glad to have those guys working with us.”
While the reaction went down as a highlight save for the Matador Beef Jerky Bullfighters, Newsom said there is a difference between looking cool vs. making a textbook save.
The Matador Beef Jerky Bullfighters – Shorty Gorham (Cotulla, Texas,), Jesse Byrne (Prince Albert, Saskatchewan) and Newsom (Paoli, Oklahoma) are tasked with keeping PBR bull riders safe inside the arena on a weekly basis.
“Jesse and Shorty probably made two or three more significant saves earlier that night that nobody even noticed because they didn’t let it develop,” Newsom added. “They picked a couple of bulls off earlier that night that kind of saved a bigger wreck.”
The three bullfighters work together as a unit with an unconventional three-fighter style that features one of them acting as a floating bullfighter. It is instinctive nature for the three of them to know exactly where the other two are at all times in the arena. They are after the same goals and read bulls similarly.
No rider or bullfighter is caught in a position of having to take a dangerous shot from a bovine beast when the three bullfighters are doing their jobs perfectly.
“Usually the great saves are the ones nobody notices,” Newsom said.
However, sometimes scenarios develop that are out of one’s control, such as when Newsom found himself in a situation where he had to sacrifice his own body to save Marchi.
“Oh, it was awesome,” Gorham said. “He was kind of stuck on the wall there. It is one of those things where it is not the textbook move, but in the given situation that was all Frank can do. That is what he does. He has never been a guy to not do his job. That is just a good example of it last night.”
Gorham agreed with Newsom that the “best saves” are normally the ones that don’t make the highlight reel.
Serving as a Matador Beef Jerky Bullfighter is not about earning yourself a highlight mix tape, Byrne reiterated.
It is always about making sure the bull riders go home safely to their wives, children, friends and family.
“When you get in a situation like (Frank did), it is do whatever it takes,” Byrne said. “They’re going to be moments where hits are going to be taken and that is for us to do. We are not talking about the times of glory where you have these big moments and take these big shots. We are not here to put on the show. That is why the bull riders are here. The smoother the better.
“Ideally, it is all happening where nobody notices anything is happening. If everybody can walk away without getting involved in those situations that is great.”