Bringing the Fight to Claresholm

Chad Besplug Invitational adding to its excitement with Bullfighters Only

Beau Schueth will be one of three top men from Bullfighters Only that will compete Saturday at the Chad Besplug Invitational in Claresholm, Alberta. He will be joined by Canadian Daryl Thiessen and Texan Weston Rutkowski. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

CLARESHOLM, Alberta – Freestyle bullfighting exploded back onto the scene in 2016 thanks to the men of Bullfighters Only.

The BFO created a buzz around the sport by showcasing the greatest talent in freestyle bullfighting history, and that detonation has spread into Canada. Three of the top athletes will be exhibiting their talent during the Bullfighters Only event in conjunction with the Chad Besplug Invitational, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Claresholm Agriplex.

“I’m really excited to be able to go head-to-head with some great bulls in Claresholm,” said Weston Rutkowski, the No. 1 bullfighter in the world from Haskell, Texas. “I’ve never fought bulls up there, so it’s going to be another great new experience for me and for the BFO.”

Rutkowski will be joined by Nebraskan Beau Scheuth, the fifth-ranked man in the standings, and Daryl Thiessen of Elm Creek, Manitoba.

“This is really huge for Canada,” Thiessen said. “With Weston, Beau and me, it’s going to be a pretty deep bullfight. I’m excited for the people up here to see what this is all about.”

A big part of Bullfighters Only’s success lies within the heart-stopping action that comes with the extreme danger in freestyle bullfighting. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.

The more engaged the animal is, the likelihood for good scores increases. With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

“That’s what bullfighting is about,” said Thiessen, noting that fellow Canadian Aaron Ferguson founded the BFO and still serves as its CEO. “Aaron has found a way to bring freestyle bullfighting to the mainstream. He’s brought in a lot of outside fans, and the interest in the sport is growing.

“It’s an exciting sport, and fans love it.”

The excitement comes in the man-vs.-beast approach. Spanish fighting bulls are bred to be aggressive and agile, and it takes a true athlete to get close to the hoof-pounding beast while staying just far enough apart to stay out of harm’s way.

“It’s 60 seconds with you and one bull,” Thiessen said. “By the end of the fight, one of you is going to know who won. It’s you vs. him. There are no other factors that play a part. You have to leave everything you’ve got in the arena if you want a chance to win.

“To be in front of Canadian fans is going to be amazing. I’m pretty excited for this. I don’t want to get beat on my home turf, so there’s going to be lots of pressure to do well.”

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