Josey is Back for the Action

Oklahoma man returns to the game he loves with Bullfighters Only

Justin Josey has returned to the game he loves after taking a little break to get his mind in sync with his body. He was 83 this past weekend in Vernal, Utah. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

VERNAL, Utah – Justin Josey’s head wasn’t in the game.

When the game is freestyle bullfighting, men must be on top of every situation, or the outcomes could be deadly. The Spanish fighting bulls are mean and aggressive, and it takes a bullfighter who is not only fleet of foot but also can react and control the animal’s actions.

“I didn’t think I was fighting bulls the way I wanted to be,” said Josey, 22, of Apache, Okla. “I decided to take a breather … for about nine months.”

It did wonders, and he returned to the ring for the Bullfighters Only-Vernal competition, in conjunction with the famous Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. Josey scored 83 points with a textbook bout against Manuel Costa’s Thumper.

“I’ve never been so excited for a bullfight in my life,” he said. “I’m all kinked out instead of kinked up.”

That time away from the arena was just what the young bullfighter needed.

Whether it was a bit of discontent with his work or a bit of burnout that comes with a game as dangerous as freestyle bullfighting, he was not in the right frame of mind to do what’s necessary.

“Josey is one of those kids that just has raw talent,” said Weston Rutkowski, the reigning BFO world champion who sits No. 2 in the 2017 Pendleton Whisky World Standings. “He’s very flashy and can surely wow the crowd.

“Fighting bulls is a lot more mental than it is physical. In this game, I think it’s smart to step away from fighting bulls if your mind and heart aren’t into it. I think it was a good move for him, and now I’m interested to see how he handles it.”

He’s handling it quite well.

“I didn’t realize how much I loved an animal like I do the Spanish fighting bulls,” Josey said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to work with these bulls again.”

Getting back into the game wasn’t easy for the Oklahoma talent, and he had to gain the approval of the 13 other BFO pioneers.

“We all love Josey and no one was mad when he decided to step away,” BFO founder, Aaron Ferguson said. “BFO is a platform for the best bullfighters in the world, and Justin is one of the best. I am excited to see him back in the arena with some fresh perspectives.”

That works just fine for Josey.

“Being part of the BFO means everything,” he said. “Ever since I first started, I wanted to be the best freestyle bullfighter to do it. At one point, I lost my vision of that goal. I think the thing that works is that you have the best in the business in the BFO. What’s a world championship if you’re not going against the best in the world.

“Whenever you wear that gold buckle around, you want to say you won it against the best guys in the world and fought the best bulls in the world. That’s what the BFO brings.”

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