By: Justin Felisko
May 30, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Ride or buckoff, Jorge Valdiviezo has a very similar expression in the arena.
Valdiviezo will give a steely, cold glare at his bovine opponent. The 26-year-old’s brown eyes have fire buried within them. Sometimes it is anger from being bucked off. Other times it is a passionate determination.
The Baja California, Mexico, bull rider is riding in the United States for much more than simply 8 seconds.
That look of fortitude is Valdiviezo riding for his country, his wife, Natalie, and daughter, Mia, and his father, Jorge Sr.
“I do know this is a moment to focus,” Valdiviezo said. “All of the people in Mexico cheer for me. I want to be that example for a lot of riders in Mexico. If you try so hard for the dream, you can do it for sure. That is my passion. Riding bulls is my passion. I do this for money, of course, but to be a good bull rider you can do something for your family, your country and all the people watching.”
In only two years, Valdiviezo has gone from competing at open bull ridings in San Antonio and working a construction job during the week to being the 27th ranked bull rider in the world standings.
Valdiviezo is competing at this coming weekend’s J.W. Hart PBR Challenge BlueDEF Tour event in Decatur, Texas, as part of the Young Guns Challenge. The rookie will take on Hy Test in the bonus round for a chance at earning a $50,000 showdown with Jared Allen’s Air Time.
Hy Test is 4-3 on the BFTS this season and 24-17 overall in his four-year career at all levels of competition.
Once again, Valdiviezo reiterated that Hart’s invitation was not only important to him, but to Mexico and his family.
“When J.W. called me for the invitation, I said, ‘Yes. Why not?’ This is for my country, so I want to be ready for Decatur. I (have taken) a couple weeks to rest my injuries and I will be ready.”
Valdiviezo’s ability to fight through a sprained right ankle and pulled left groin two weeks ago during Last Cowboy Standing was a turning point in Hart’s belief in the Built Ford Tough Series newcomer. Hart had liked what he had seen previously of Valdiviezo, but he was still unsure if Valdiviezo had the bull riding chops necessary to stay on tour.
“It looks like he can ride,” Hart said. “That is what impresses me. I have only seen him a handful of times. From what I have seen, he is the real McCoy. He is long-legged. He is lanky. He has that J.B. Mauney in him sometimes. He has long arms and can give a lot of arm to a bull that is really steep and kicks hard. He makes the whistle.
“At the end of the day, that is the first impression on me about any of these kids. They make the whistle. It doesn’t matter how pretty you do it. If two guys stay on every bull then it comes down to who done it the prettiest, but very seldom does it come down to that.”
Valdiviezo is competing against 2015 World Finals event winner Cooper Davis and fellow rookies Jess Lockwood, Derek Kolbaba and Kurt Shephard.
Davis, a Jasper, Texas, native, and Valdiviezo, a San Antonio resident, should have a strong fan base behind them in Decatur.
Jasper is only 300 miles away, while San Antonio is only a 4-to-5-hour drive from Decatur.
Valdiviezo chose to move to San Antonio when he decided to come to the United States to chase his bull riding dream and provide a better opportunity for his family because he knew fellow bull rider Rosendo Ramirez and Eduardo Mata were living in San Antonio.
Once he arrived in Texas, Valdiviezo knew life in the United States wasn’t going to be easy by any means. He had to work toward earning his bull riding American Dream.
“My whole life, in my mind, I am thinking about just coming here, work hard and try,” Valdiviezo said. “The first day I come here. It was hard for my family. I didn’t have nothing here. The first thing I had to do was get a permit, buy a car, take a better job because it is real expensive. If you think about it, Mexico is real cheap.”
Valdiviezo worked in construction for his first three months in the United States. He would send home money frequently to Natalie, so that she and Mia, could move to San Antonio within a month of Jorge’s arrival.
Eventually, Valdiviezo found a way to use one of his other passions and talents in life – working on cars – to help earn a stronger income to supplement his bull riding career when he took a mechanic job with Wetmore Auto.
“There at the mechanic shop, they helped me a lot with my career,” Valdiviezo said. “They would give me three days to come here and go back to work during the week. I have to pay my bills and save some money. Here in the United States, everyone in Mexico thinks, ‘Oh, you have money.’ But here you need to pay a lot and you have to be a good, hard worker to pay your bills. My wife helps a lot taking care of my daughter, and my house, and she helps me a lot with this plan.”
Valdiviezo’s father, who also rode bareback horses in local rodeos in Mexico, actually owns a small mechanic shop in Mexico and that is how Jorge Jr. became so talented around cars, including off-road race cars.
“My dad has (had) a mechanic shop all his life and it is a small shop, but he makes race cars too,” Jorge Jr. added. “He used to be a baja off-road driver. It is a family effort. We buy a truck 7-10 years ago and we save money for parts. This year with this truck we won two races.”
When asked if he was a good race car driver, Jorge Jr. shrugged in embarrassment.
“That is my second hobby, (but) I am a bad racer,” he said with a laugh. “My dad is a driver and I just enjoy my time with my dad because I am a bad driver. The last time I raced I flipped the race car.”
Jorge. Sr. and his wife, Marta, were in attendance in Las Vegas to watch Jorge Jr. finish in seventh-place at Last Cowboy Standing.
Jorge Jr. hopes to find time this summer to take a break from the PBR grind and return home to Mexico before making a push at qualifying for the first time for the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“This summer we will look forward to a break and head home to my country, my hometown, and enjoy some rest with my family,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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