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The Brutal Bull Named "Sermon"

IN THAT TWILIGHT SEASON between pimples common sense, I began a quest for courage.

In the ranch country of western New Mexico, rodeo was more popular than football or baseball. During the summer months, this sport born of the boredom and recklessness of wild, young cowboys supplied us with recreation, socialization, and competition. There was something for everyone. The girls competed in barrel racing and pole-bending, the boys roped calves and rode broncs and bulls. In the hierarchy of rodeo, bull riding was the sport that separated the boys from the men—at least, that was the way we saw it then. I longed to find out if I was yet a man.

My heroes really have always been cowboys. Larry Mahan, Freckles Brown, and Jim Shoulders inspired courage and perseverance in me and my peers. I determined to follow in the boot prints of these legends of the professional rodeo circuit.

I was fifteen years old in the summer of 1974. I was a little old to begin riding bulls, but it had taken years of relentless ...

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