By: Justin Felisko
April 28, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – In 2006, future three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo made his official move from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to the United States with PBR gold buckle aspirations.
Around that same time, a 15-year-old boy by the name of Ramon Rodrigues de Lima in Palermo’s hometown of Rio Branco, Brazil, was attempting to ride a bull for the first time.
Lima, a first generation bull rider, continued to get on practice bull after practice bull in their home state of Acre, while Palermo began to rise to stardom in the United States.
Palermo’s father, Roque, would often tell his son about this young guy in their hometown that was earning comparisons to the budding American bull riding superstar.
Eleven years later and both Rio Branco natives are now competing in the United States together.
“I am a big fan of Robson,” Lima said with the help of Emilio Resende translating. “Robson is a big inspiration for many of us in Rio Branco.”
Lima, who sometimes goes by only Ramon Rodrigues, made his Built Ford Tough Series debut earlier this month and went 0-for-3 in Billings, Montana, after making his PBR season debut in February with three consecutive second-place finishes at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour level.
However, the No. 44 ranked bull rider in the world standings is only 107.5 points behind No. 35 Reese Cates and returning to the BFTS.
The 26-year-old is coming off a 2-for-2, third-place finish Thursday night at the Clovis Rodeo Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event and is set to compete at the Velocity Tour’s next event Saturday in Wichita, Kansas.
Round 1 begins at 7 p.m. CT at Intrust Bank Arena.
“I am very happy to be here,” Lima said. “This is my dream. My dream is real to be riding in the PBR USA.”
Palermo was originally slated to compete this weekend, but he is still recovering from surgery on his left meniscus a little over three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Palermo is looking forward to getting to know Lima more once he returns to competition.
The two had never crossed paths when Lima was a kid, but they met briefly at a local rodeo in Acre four years after Palermo first came to the U.S.
“I knew he was from my hometown, but I never had seen him ride there,” Palermo recalled on Friday morning. “People said, when I left, he is the one that took off. He rode like me. He rode the same way. He was one of the best.
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi was competing at that 2010 Acre rodeo and remembers being impressed by the young Lima.
“I had heard about him,” Marchi said. “Ramon is a really nice guy and a very strong rider. He is going to have a really great career here in the United States. He is very dedicated. He gets on a lot of practice bulls. He is focused to ride strong and be a winner.”
Lima still remembers watching Palermo and Marchi, as well as Valdiron de Oliveira and two-time World Champion Justin McBride, whenever Brazilian television station Canal Rural aired PBR highlights.
“I lived on a big farm,” Lima said. “I started to ride big bulls in the pasture. I kept telling myself to get better and better. Then I rode in arenas. I would watch a lot of videos.”
Lima eventually moved to Sao Paulo to pursue his bull riding career against some of the stiffest competition in Brazil after Palermo told him during the rodeo that was the best next step for his career.
Palermo had made a similar move with his wife, Priscilla, in 2001.
“Everybody talked about him as a good rider,” Palermo said. “I talked to him a little bit and I told him you need to come to Sao Paulo or the U.S. to ride bulls.
“He did and he is here now.”
Lima’s style continued to develop the more he rode, and, yes, he modeled himself in the same strength-based style that has helped Palermo earn over $2.5 million in his career.
“I have my own preference for riding,” Lima said. “I ride strong and a little up, but it is a little different than the other ones. I have bested my own style. I ride really stiff like a traditional bull rider in Brazil.”
Lima won the 2015 Liga de Nacional de Rodeo Brazilian national title.
Current rookie and world No. 16 bull rider Claudio Montanha Jr. won the same title last season before making the full-time switch to the United States this year as well.
Lima agreed with Montanha that their past success in Brazil has groomed them to succeed here in the United States.
“Making good rides in Brazil has given me the mentality I can ride here,” Lima said.
Marchi believes it won’t be long before Lima is competing alongside himself and Montanha on the Built Ford Tough Series.
“I saw him step up and ride better bulls and win a lot of events and rodeos over there,” Marchi said. “He is going to be Top-10 soon. He can finish in the Top-15 this year, or maybe Top 10, if he rides like he does.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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