He Might Be the Best Bull Rider, Ever

But JB Mauney has finally called it quits, and made his peace with the bull that forced his hand
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2024 3:30 PM CDT
Rodeo Star Makes His Peace With Bull That Broke His Neck
J.B. Mauney appears outside New York's Madison Square Garden in 2016.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Know the name JB Mauney? If not, you've probably never been to a rodeo, because the 37-year-old is "arguably the greatest rodeo bull rider who ever lived," writes Sally Jenkins in a profile for the Washington Post. Mauney, however, is now in what he calls "forced retirement" after a bull named Arctic Assassin broke his neck in September. "I always knew something like this was going to have to happen," Mauney tells Jenkins from his ranch in Stephenville, Texas. He was not paralyzed in the incident, but doctors told him he likely would be should he fall on his head again—a near certainty in his chosen sport. Therefore, he called it quits, but only because of wife Samantha and their 5-year-old son, Jagger. "If it wasn't for her and that little boy, I'd never have stopped." In reading the story, you get the sense this is not false bravado.

Jenkins traces Mauney's rise from a bull-riding prodigy to his status as a giant in the sport, where he gained the nickname "Dragonslayer" because of his propensity to choose the biggest, baddest bulls to ride. He has a record-tying 32 victories on the Professional Bull Riders circuit and is "the first man to get legit rich at bull riding" with career earnings north of $7 million. At this point, he also has "so much metal in him from being torn up by bulls that if you gave him a full body X-ray, his bones would look like silverware," writes Jenkins. A notable footnote: Also living on his ranch is none other than Arctic Assassin, the bull that ended his career. Mauney bought him afterward. Read the full story, which explores the sport's controversies as well as what it takes to be a great rider—it's about grace and finesse, not overpowering the animal. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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