By: Andrew Giangola
March 01, 2017
PUEBLO, CO (March 1, 2017) – Bonner Bolton, a professional bull rider who suffered a nearly catastrophic bull-riding injury 14 months ago and was given a one percent chance of walking again, was today announced as a contestant on the new season of the ABC hit series Dancing with the Stars.
In the Professional Bull Riders’ 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season opener in Chicago, Bolton had been leading the event before landing on his head when dismounting the bull, splitting his C-2 vertebra. Bolton was temporarily paralyzed.
Beginning with spinal fusion surgery, the 29-year-old from Odessa, Texas began a remarkable recovery. While Bolton was still immobile, IMG Models, a leading global modeling agency, signed him worldwide. IMG Models and PBR are divisions of WME | IMG, a leading global sports, entertainment and fashion agency.
As Bolton continues to recover and branch into new areas, he has been profiled in major magazines and newspapers around the world, shot an ad campaign for Saks Fifth Avenue, and posed for world-renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino for a major feature soon to appear in an international men’s magazine.
“The odds are stacked against anyone dealing with an accident, injury, or illness,” Bolton said. “Physically, I feel good. I’m very thankful for what I’ve overcome, and I hope to inspire and motivate others who have challenges.”
Bolton, who finished seventh at the 2015 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, is receiving advice from Ty Murray, a nine-time world champion cowboy and founder of the PBR who competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2009, making it to the semifinals.
“Bonner has the right attitude and is preparing mentally and physically,” Murray said. “He’s a legitimate cowboy and has the support of the entire bull-riding and western sports community. Bonner is going to be a tremendous ambassador for PBR and all cowboys.”
Bolton is paired with Sharna Burgess, a 31-year-old professional dancer from Australia, who has been a runner-up several times on Dancing with the Stars.
“Bull riding and dancing both require balance, strength, posture, form and muscle-reflex memory,” Bolton says. “In the PBR, there’s a premium on rhythm and timing, countering those bulls move for move. The bull leads, and you follow. Sharna and I have already developed great chemistry, and I’m relying on her to teach and lead me.”
Dancing with the Stars returns with a live premiere on Monday, March 20, 8:00-10:01 p.m. EST