By: Justin Felisko
August 25, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves is sitting in a pew inside a Barretos, Brazil, cathedral last year when he makes a truthful and heartfelt revelation.
“Maybe it is because something I did in the past, or just one of life’s tests that teach us how to live, but this experience has scared me a little,” Alves says.
Alves is explaining his mindset during the Netflix six-part documentary series, “Fearless,” following the first major injury and surgery of his career. At the time, Alves was just making his comeback from a broken hip that caused him to miss almost four months of competition and left the legendary rider a shell of his former self.
“I’ve been riding bulls professionally for 10 years and this is my first injury. At the time, I got very nervous. I won’t lie. I was nervous. Because going through surgery is no joke. I was scared to do it. But if I have to get that done for my health, for my career, then I’m going to have to do it.”
A year later, and Alves has still struggled to regain his previous form.
There have been moments where he has appeared timid, disinterested or possibly even scared in the arena this season. There are other moments where he looks like nothing like the rider that began the season with a 58.6 percent career riding percentage.
The 28-year-old is 26th in the world standings and is 15-for-46 on the BFTS with a career-low 32.61 percent riding average heading into this weekend’s Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
During the first episode of “Fearless,” Alves is featured prominently and opens up about his thoughts on his three world titles, as well as his 2015 struggles with injury.
The documentary brings viewers inside the mind of Alves and is a reminder of how much he struggled last season.
Alves said that the Netflix series was “incredible” and that he was “extremely happy” with the production.
“It is very important because the fans see our life outside of rodeo,” Alves said. “They see different things outside rodeo. Not just for me. But for Kaique (Pacheco), Joao (Ricardo Vieira). For all of the top Brazilian bull riders. Guilherme (Marchi), (Robson) Palermo, Valdiron (de Oliveira). For everybody to see watching Netflix. It is good. It is important for everything.”
Alves revealed last weekend in Nashville that his struggles this season are not to be associated with his 2015 hip injury or surgery. However, he did admit that when Cochise stepped on his head and crushed his riding helmet in New York at the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden that it rattled him psychologically.
“A little bit,” Alves said. “To finish one injury and to start riding good again and then there is another. It was a little difficult, but I can do it now I think.”
He had begun the season with five consecutive rides before his close-encounter with Cochise. It then took him over two months to record five more qualified rides.
When asked if he was scared inside of the arena, Alves responded, “Yeah. Not really, really scared. I think all of the bull riders are just a little bit. For the little things I see in front of my face, it is a little scary. It is OK because I had no confidence with my body.”
Alves also admitted there have been times this year when he was in the process of bucking off that his fears became elevated.
“Sometimes. I think more for when I am falling off,” he said. “Will he step (on me) when he is still bucking?”
Being a father of two and a husband certainly affects his mindset too.
“Right now I am not very old, but I am getting older,” Alves said. “I am 28. It is different from when I started here at 21. Before, I was a young guy and I wasn’t scared for all of those things.”
Alves rode Mojo Bone – a bull he knew nothing about – for 83.75 points last weekend during the Music City Knockout before Kaique Pacheco (85-point ride) eliminated him from the 36-rider tournament.
Alves pumped his chest and yelled into the CBS Sports Network cameras for the first time in a long time.
“I am getting more confidence,” Alves said. “My rib is not sore. My body is starting to give me secretive confidence to ride bulls. The first time I was injured. I told Netflix my mentality is good, my body is no good. Right now my confidence is more secure. It is stronger. I can do it now. I am ready now. I can do everything.”
Pacheco said in May he believed Alves was still attempting to regain his confidence.
“He is having a struggle right now in his career,” Pacheco said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “After he hurt his ribs and the surgery, he hasn’t had the same confidence he had before. All of the riders, when they are hurt, they don’t have same confidence when they come back. It is hard to build it (back).”
After winning three world titles in four years, Alves has since become an afterthought in the 2016 world title conversation and is no longer feared by his opponents.
He is 2,426.17 points behind Pacheco for the world No.1 ranking. Coincidentally, Pacheco’s 85-point ride in Nashville came on the bull (Legal Tender) that broke Alves’ hip.
Alves is aware that he has been written off in ways, and he understands why that is the case.
Still, the pride of Pilar do Sul, Brazil, says he is far from done.
He isn’t thinking about retiring at the end of the season and he still “loves riding bulls.” More importantly, Alves has a new challenge after having already accomplished so much in his brief seven-year career.
“This is just another test for me,” Alves said. “The injuries. This is good for more motivation. I have a new challenge. Right now, I am in the middle of the world standings, but nothing is impossible. I just need to ride one day, one bull. That is how I was the same a couple of years ago. I was just riding every day and every bull. I am going to try to be back at the top.”
Does Alves believe he can return to his prior self?
Without blinking an eye or taking time to think, Alves responds, “Yes.”
Can he be a World Champion again?
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Fearless is available to stream now for Netflix subscribers.
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