Going Back to his Roots

Rutkowski returns to west Texas for BFO’s first stop in San Angelo

Weston Rutkowski jumps a bull to start his fight during the Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship. He returns to his roots in west Texas this weekend to compete in San Angelo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

SAN ANGELO, Texas – The sound of Weston Rutkowski’s voice gleams of west Texas.

From that unmistakable drawl to the tone he uses, his regional pride is evident. He grew up in the burg of Haskell, a town of 3,300 people about two hours northeast of San Angelo. It’s home.

He returns to the Plains on Saturday night to headline the Bullfighters Only competition Presented by Ken Schlaudt Custom Homes, held in conjunction with the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. Rutkowski will be one of three freestyle bullfighters to test their athleticism while going head to head with aggressive and agile Spanish fighting bulls.

“This is huge for me,” said Rutkowski, the No. 1-ranked bullfighter in the game today. “Everyone wants to compete at home, so I’m really looking forward to it. Once I started fighting bulls, I never really got to go home and do it there.”

He will now, and he will have the chance to show why he is considered one of the best in the business. West Texas isn’t just home for Rutkowski; it was a training ground in a way. He was a five-sport athlete, competing in football, basketball, baseball, track and golf. Now he utilizes that same athletic ability but in a more dangerous fashion.

“When they talk about football Friday nights, it’s a real thing,” he said. “It’s not just a story line. The town shut down, and everybody would go to the game.”

That’s a drawing card for his opportunity to compete in San Angelo. He knows of the great crowds that fill the coliseum. He understands that folks want to see something exciting, and that’s why the stock show and rodeo is so popular.

“When the rodeo’s in town, people pack in every night,” Rutkowski said. “They have such a prestigious event that people just flock to that arena.”

Rutkowski shows off his intensity during a freestyle bullfight last year. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Now they’ll get to see him in action and see what the buzz is all about. After nearly 20 years on the backburner, Bullfighters Only was the guiding force to bringing freestyle bullfighting back into the limelight. After a successful inaugural run in 2016, the BFO Presented by Ken Schlaudt Custom Homes is one of the first events of the new season.

“I haven’t fought a bull since Vegas in December,” said Rutkowski, who earned more than $40,000 throughout the Bullfighters Only 2016 season. “I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and I’ve been training hard. I’m ready for battle. I cannot wait to get back into the arena and go head-to-head.”

It’s a fascinating event. 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.

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.

Now Rutkowski will showcase his talent in front of fans who understand rodeo and will want to see the action of the BFO.

“That is the heart of rodeo country,” he said. “They don’t need to put on a big concert, because they have very knowledgeable rodeo fans. They’ve been there, done that, and they expect a good show.

“The Oklahoma guys have a stronghold on freestyle bullfighting, but I want to do my best to make sure everyone knows Texas still has a ballplayer in the game.”

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