FORT WORTH, Texas ― Ty Murray likened the Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy V to a boxer having to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson in one night, only then to face Muhammad Ali.
Calling it the best analogy he’s heard, Colby Yates agreed with the notion that it gets “stronger and harder each (round).”
In 2011, Yates got the call that he was being added to the draw as an alternate the Wednesday before the event and just 72 hours later an exhausted Yates stood atop the center stage having won the second of what is soon-to-be five Iron Cowboy events.
“After the whole deal, my (butt) was worn out,” said Yates, who advanced through six rounds of competition in the only bracket style, single-elimination format of its kind.
He later said, “Your mental strength has to grow with every bull you get on and it’s very difficult because you’re physical strength is going in a downhill slide and your mental strength is trying to slide too because you know you just exerted all your energy trying to ride (a bull like) Asteroid and then you still have to get on Bushwacker next. It’s like fighting against all the odds, but you have to somehow overcome it.”
While the eight riders who receive a first-round bye are oftentimes considered the favorites in one of the most grueling events in all of professional bull riding, Yates speaks from first-hand experience when opines late additions like rookie Gage Gay have just as much of a chance to win as reigning World Champion J.B. Mauney.
“Man, it’s anybody’s game,” he said.
In fact, like Yates three years ago, guys coming through the first round are able to gain some momentum and valuable confidence after winning their way into Round 2, where, this year they’ll go head-to-head with the likes of Mauney, Silvano Alves, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Guilherme Marchi, Cody Nance, Marco Eguchi, Eduardo Aparecido and L.J. Jenkins.
At the same time, not only are the Top 24 riders in the world competing, but the event features the 47 rankest bulls in the PBR, including two-time and reigning World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
This year’s winner will have a matchup with Bushwacker in what is being billed as the Bad Boy Mowers Million Dollar Ride.
“For me, it was such a big deal and I probably didn’t know what to expect, which was probably a good thing,” said Yates, who is a Fort Worth, Texas, native and felt the support of the entire crowd from the moment he was first introduced. “I was wanting it so bad and I was sitting there waiting for the call and I would think about it all the time. When I did, being here in my hometown, it kind of helped me out.
“They were pulling for me from the word go. That really motivated me and gave me a lot of confidence.”
As the event unfolded he felt the support of the bull riders and his friends behind the chutes coupled with the adrenaline that comes with competing in an event as important as the Iron Cowboy, the energy being inside AT&T Stadium (then known as Cowboys Stadium) and, of course, a desire to win.
Yates likened the locker room atmosphere to that of the World Finals.
“Everybody is motivated to win,” recalled Yates, who wasn’t able to sleep that night and didn’t fully process what he had accomplished until almost 24 hours later.
“Everybody is looking at their bracket and they’re mapping out their game plan and they’re figuring out a whole new strategy on it because it is a different format. It is just a different feel for everybody, I think.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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