By: Justin Felisko
March 17, 2016
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – During his record run of three consecutive Ty Murray Invitational championships in the early 2000s, Mike White remembers not only whooping Murray at his namesake event, but also pulling off one of his favorite pranks on the nine-time World Champion.
White doesn’t remember exactly what year it was when he had the idea to empty a tube of Icy Hot cream into Murray’s compression shorts inside the locker at Tingley Coliseum, the old home of the Built Ford Tough Series event before it shifted to WisePies Arena, aka The Pit in 2008, but he still remembers the priceless look on Murray’s face.
“I put icy hot in his little tights he had on. He thought he was going to smear some of it on my face and I put him on his ‘ole head in the sports (medicine) room,” White recalled on Wednesday afternoon before erupting in laughter. I was the only guy that whipped his ass at his event. They had it on national TV too with me whooping his ass in the locker room so he can’t deny it.”
Murray also broke out in laughter when reminded of the incident Wednesday afternoon.
“You tell Mike that was the only time he ever beat me three times,” Murray said.
He then added, “Hell, we have always had a good relationship with a lot of joking and playing pranks on each other. It may have been last year or two years ago at the Finals, but he said, ‘Your hands are getting soft.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah? You want to finger wrestle?
“Then I broke his finger.”
All joking aside, there have been plenty of memorable and historic moments during the last 19 years of the Ty Murray Invitational.
It was from 2002- 04 that White won a PBR record three straight titles at the event, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend.
“That is a hell of a big accomplishment,” Murray said. “Albuquerque for 20 years has had rank bulls and a lot of that is because of where it sits geographically. It is not an easy one to win at all, but to win it three times is pretty incredible. That could be something that never gets broke.”
When asked about the record, White bashfully responded, “Man, I don’t know. I just drew good bulls there and I just rode good. They always had a good set of bulls there, and I just drew the bulls I needed to win that event.
“I damn sure didn’t have any bulls for a day off there.”
You don’t just ride well when you win three consecutive events. You ride pretty damn well.
White went 8-for-8 with half of his qualified rides going for 90 points or more.
White rode Promise Land for 93 points and Candyman for 91 points when he won his first Ty Murray Invitational in 2002. His two 90-point rides were good enough to hold off Gilbert Carrillo for the event victory despite Carrillo’s monumental 96-point ride on Blueberry Wine.
While White called Promise Land likely the easiest of his four 90-point rides during his winning streak, the 2002 event may have been one of the more historic in Albuquerque with five riders posting 90-point rides in the two-round event.
“I definitely never had bulls for a day off there anyway,” White recalled. “I think one year I rode Promise Land in the short round there. One year I rode that Maximus there. One year I rode that Spotted Jacket.”
White rode Maximus for 92 points to win the 2003 event, and he capped his three-peat with a 92-point effort aboard Spotted Jacket in 2004.
The DeKalb, Texas, bull rider and 2012 PBR Ring of Honor inductee said his ride on Spotted Jacket was probably the toughest of the eight qualified rides.
“Man, I am just going to tell you I did everything I could to hang onto that son of a gun,” White said. “He turned right back there into the gate. That bull had a lot of whip and moved forward and would try to pull you down. The only thing I could remember was I gritted my teeth and gave it all I had every round. He wasn’t easy to get by.”
Murray added, “When Mike White was riding good, he was a bad cat. He was very athletic. He was a hell of a good bull rider.”
White’s record run came to an end in 2005 when he was unable to shoot for a fourth consecutive Ty Murray Invitational crown because of elbow surgery. Earlier that season, the 1999 Rookie of the Year dislocated the elbow of his free arm three events into the season and had to undergo surgery to repair a shattered radius bone.
He then missed the 2006 event because of a broken back he suffered attempting to ride The Boogerman in Kansas City, Missouri, three events before the Ty Murray Invitational.
White returned to Albuquerque in 2007 and went 0-for-3. He then was a combined 2-for-5 in the last two Ty Murray Invitationals of his career.
Regardless, White will always be synonymous with the event.
“It is hard to win any Built Ford Tough Series event three times,” Murray concluded. “I feel like Albuquerque is even a little bit harder and it is a lot like Oklahoma City where we generally have the buckers there.
“You win something three times, you can pretty much rule out luck.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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