By: Justin Felisko
March 09, 2017
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Koal Livingston may have been knocked down at the Jacksonville Invitational last weekend, but he is already picking himself back up just like his grandfather taught him to do inside the boxing ring.
Livingston, who bucked off with a chance for his first Built Ford Tough Series victory in Jacksonville, may have never pursued a serious boxing career, but the 18-year-old’s background in the sport has provided him another training option for his bull riding career.
Paul Stephens, Livingston’s grandfather, was a four-time Fort Worth Star-Telegram Texas State Golden Gloves champion with a 345-21 record in his career, according to BoxRec.com.
“I started boxing when I was 15 or 16 and I was going to go to Golden Gloves, but I broke my leg riding bulls,” Livingston said. “I got back, healed up and started riding bulls again. I went to like two boxing tournaments. That’s it. My grandfather fought professionally all the way up until he was at least 35. My mom boxed a little bit too when I was younger.”
The rookie is amidst his first full PBR season after purchasing his PBR card last May. Livingston made his BFTS debut in January at the Sacramento Clash, and finished Jacksonville in fifth place – a career-best.
“Boxing helps with everything,” Livingston said. “It works with all kinds of different muscles you aren’t used to working out every day. It is just a great workout. It keeps you on top of your game.”
Livingston has been unable to spar or box of late because of an unstable left shoulder (free arm).
“If I go to throwing a left hand, my shoulder will come out,” Livingston said with a shrug.
The Burleson, Texas, bull rider was able to fight through the injury in Jacksonville to become the second 18-year-old in the past two seasons to win a BFTS round when he rode Ram It for 87 points in Round 1.
2016 Rookie of the Year Jess Lockwood won a PBR record eight rounds as a rookie.
“It feels so good,” Livingston said. “It is a dream come true.”
Livingston followed up his round-winner with 84.5 points on King Buck. He later bucked off Alligator Arms (5.95 seconds) on the final ride attempt of the weekend.
“I am just trying not to think about my shoulder,” Livingston said. “I took the brace off and not think about it. I am letting it do its deal. I took the brace off and threw it away because it hasn’t done nothing. I just kind of let it do its deal.”
Livingston also dabbled as a baseball player before turning his focus completely toward bull riding.
“I played baseball whenever I was younger, but it took up to much time riding bulls and stuff,” he said. “You can’t miss a game. I stopped doing all of that. I played baseball, boxed a little bit and now just ride bulls.”
Stephens boxed throughout the 1970s and was one of the popular fighters in the Fort-Worth region.
“I saw a lot of pictures,” Livingston said. “Every single place we go with boxing, it’s ‘Paul! Paul! Paul!’”
Livingston may not have hit PBR stardom just yet, but he may soon be joining his grandfather as a recognizable face in his respective sport.
He heads into this weekend’s Bad Boy Mowdown ranked 22nd in the world standings and fourth in the rookie standings.
Livingston has drawn Power Plant (1-1, BFTS) for Round 1.
Coincidentally, Livingston last dislocated his shoulder in his previous matchup against Power Plant.
In St. Louis, Livingston’s shoulder popped out when he was trying to crawl away to safety after bucking off the bull in 7.97 seconds.
“My shoulder is not healthy at all,” Livingston said. “I can go reach out to crawl away and it will come out. Certain movements just do it. Nothing even happened. I was just crawling.”
Livingston explained that being able to solidify himself inside the Top 30 of the world standings will help him get more comfortable on the BFTS.
He also understands he needs to ride better than the 3-for-12 record he has through five BFTS events so far.
“I needed to get some rode real bad, and I still need to get some rode,” Livingston concluded. “It ain’t over yet. I just need to keep following this thing up.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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