By: Justin Felisko July 24, 2014@ 07:00:00 PM
PUEBLO, Colo. – Matt Bohon could not pick up his phone fast enough to call PBR Senior Vice President of Competition Jay Daugherty when he heard earlier this year the organization was looking to host a series of events in China.
The Cole Camp, Missouri, bull rider wanted to make sure Daugherty, and anyone else that needed to know, that he was interested and willing to do all that was necessary to compete and represent the PBR in China. He had competed at PBR events in Chihuahua, Mexico, and Australia and knew this would be another opportunity he didn’t want to miss.
“I want to be a part of this,” Bohon said earlier this month at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. “Not only for the aspect of getting that many points, but it’s just for the whole history-making process of it. I want to be a part of it.”
He then asked, “Could you imagine if you are the first guy out of the chute in China?
“You are the first person to ever compete on Chinese soil. That alone is huge.”
Starting next month, Bohon and 29 other bull riders will compete in PBR China’s inaugural events in Qingdao, Nanjing and Shanghai. As of July 24, there are approximately 21 events tentatively scheduled to take place in the three Chinese cities that will be preparing to experience in-person professional bull riding for the first time.
That is what makes this so exciting to Bohon and other riders that have accepted the offer to compete in China.
“We are going to blow these Chinese people away with our sport,” Bohon said. “They are not going to know what to think.”
Jason Malone said, “It is something I didn’t want to pass up. It is historic for the PBR and going to China is something that hasn’t been done.”
Malone, whose favorite class in high school was history, said he jumped at the chance to sign up and compete in China once the PBR’s vision became a reality.
“I am excited about it,” he said. “I am interested in other cultures from around the world and learning more about them. It will be an experience and an opportunity that I wouldn’t get elsewhere.”
Despite his excitement and own anticipation for being a part of history next month, Tyler Harr did admit it was a tough decision for him to make. The 24-year-old is currently ranked 42nd in the world standings and was unsure of leaving his wife and 2-year-old daughter behind for a couple weeks at a time and potentially missing out on “precious moments” with his family.
Harr is in his first season of competing primarily at PBR events and made his BFTS debut earlier this year in Billings, Montana.
Depending on how things could have potentially shaped up this summer, Harr may have been in line for a chance to break onto the BFTS come Aug. 15 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, he didn’t want to put all of his eggs in one basket and said the money up for grabs in China is one opportunity he did not want to let slip away.
“It was not an easy decision,” Harr said. “I picked my brain for weeks. I never have been in the hunt or this high in the standings. The bonus money available in PBR China was really high and that was probably the No. 1 reason I am going to go. I am close to making it on tour and I wouldn’t of went just to go there for the points.”
The inaugural PBR China series will award approximately $350,000.
Malone, also 30 years old like Bohon, said he is all too aware of sitting on the bubble of the world standings. The past two seasons he has spent many days waiting around for that phone call from the PBR inviting him to the BFTS as an alternate.
Then when that call didn’t come, he was forced to pay for more expensive flights to try and make it to two or three Touring Pro Division events at the last minute.
“I kind of looked at it like a guy can still make the Finals if he goes to China and I don’t have to wait around for a phone call to see where I am going,” said Malone, who competed in four BFTS events in the first half and is ranked 37th in the world.
PBR China events will count towards the world standings just as Touring Pro Division events do.
Malone said he is also cherishing the opportunity to learn about a different culture and country. He has previously competed in PBR events in Canada, but has also competed in non-PBR events in Mexico and Brazil.
Bohon believes he will take in the moment of competing internationally more than when he was in Mexico.
“Honestly when I went to Mexico, I was a lot younger,” he explained. “I didn’t take it for granted, but I didn’t pay attention. I was excited to be down there at the bull riding trying to win a bunch of money. Now I am a little bit more mature, especially going to China – that is a big deal.”
Though, of course, for all three riders the main objective is to finish on top in China. They want to make sure they fly back to the United States with plenty of points and cash to show for their efforts.
“It’s going to be awesome and seeing the culture, but (make) no mistake about it, I am going over there to win the tour,” Malone said.
“I know what I can do,” Bohon said. “I like my odds. You have to feel that way to compete.”
“There is only going to be one first PBR China Champion,” Harr said. “To be the first would be a milestone for your career.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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