Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bodacious story

Big, bad Bodacious: His story not a bunch of bull

By BRETT HOFFMAN
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
On a neon night in Las Vegas during the 1995 National Finals Rodeo, the odds of Tuff Hedeman drawing the legendary rodeo bull Bodacious were 15-1.
But Hedeman was paired with Bodacious, and he faced a big decision.
The four-time world champion had promised to never again mount Bodacious after the bull shattered Hedeman's facial bones at a high-profile bull riding show earlier that year. However, Hedeman was in the thick of a title race hunt and declining to attempt to ride Bodacious meant that he would receive a zero that night and the next night.
So when he was called to ride, Hedeman mounted Bodacious in the chute, put his hand in the rope handle and called for the gate to be opened. As the panel swung and Bodacious began exiting, a stalwart stock contractor yanked Hedeman off Bodacious and planted Hedeman on the walkway behind the chute. Following those specifics meant that Hedeman received only one zero.
Several performances later, Bodacious sent Scott Breding to the emergency room with head injuries, even though Breding wore a catcher's mask.
That's when Bodacious' owner, Sammy Andrews, opted to retire the bull. He reassigned Bodacious as a breeder and a traveling road show.
The 10-year anniversary of the bull's absence was a topic at last month's 2005 National Finals in Las Vegas. In May of 2000, the bull died of kidney failure and was buried at Andrews' ranch at Addielou, just east of the northeast Texas town of Paris.
Today, Bodacious' children and grandchildren with names such as Bo's Excuse and Fender Bender are rising to stardom on the pro rodeo circuits. Andrews said he will haul in at least a half dozen of Bodacious' offspring for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show's Bulls Night Out on Tuesday and Wednesday and its traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show Friday through Feb. 5. Both shows will be at Will Rogers Coliseum.
After only a handful of cowboys conquered him from 1992 through 1995, the lore of the light coffee-colored Charolais-Brahman crossbreed bull, all 1,800 pounds of him, transcended his sport. An inductee into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., Bodacious is arguably the most dangerous world champion-caliber bucking bull of all time.
"Even top-ranked guys who weren't afraid of anything were definitely afraid of Bodacious," Hedeman said. "There were guys who didn't put out a lot of effort when they got on him because he was that scary and that dangerous."
At Andrews' Addielou ranch, a bucking chute that was donated by the Houston Livestock Show Rodeo and a plaque grace the bull's grave, which often attracts tourists.
In a four-year career and 135 attempts, only six riders completed a total of eight rides on Bodacious in the professional ranks.
"It was like winning against a legendary gunfighter," Andrews said. "If you stayed on Bodacious, you had a reputation."
Bodacious' story perhaps is best depicted through two of his opponents, Hedeman and two-time world champion Terry Don West.
Hedeman said he made his best ride atop Bodacious at the 1993 championships for a now-defunct organization called Bull Riders Only in Long Beach, Calif. He received a score of 95 out of 100, a mark as rare as a perfect game in baseball in that era, which enabled Hedeman to win a gold buckle.
Hedeman experienced the opposite extreme against Bodacious at the 1995 Professional Bull Riders World Finals in Las Vegas. During the ride, Hedeman leaned forward to stay in rhythm and alleviate the pressure of the jumps, but Bodacious threw his head back and struck Hedeman in the face.
As Hedeman tumbled, his face collided with bull's massive shoulders, and Hedeman landed and rolled on the dirt floor. He clutched his bleeding face, and paramedics rushed in to attend to him.
Hedeman underwent reconstructive facial surgery in a Las Vegas hospital. When he returned to his Morgan Mill ranch home, his 4-year-old son, Robert Lane, barely recognized his father.
"He said, 'Dad, the next time that you draw Bodacious, you'd better chicken out,'" Hedeman said. "And I said, 'Deal.'"
After being battered at the 1995 PBR championships in October, Hedeman was sidelined for two months and entered the 1995 NFR weighing in 20 pounds lighter. When he drew Bodacious in the middle of the 10-day show, Hedeman kept his promise to his son.
"He literally could have killed me the time before and I definitely wasn't going to give him a second chance," said Hedeman, who finished 1-4 against Bodacious.
West also was among the elite club of cowboys who conquered Bodacious. His qualified ride was in the San Antonio Livestock Show Rodeo final round when West won the title and $10,000 in February 1995, the last time a rider made the eight-second count on the bull.
But the victory ride came almost a year after Bodacious had whipped West down on his massive front end at the Houston Livestock Show Rodeo finals. West received several broken ribs and a punctured lung.
"Bo knew how to play the game with cowboys," West said.
Although a decade has passed since the bull bucked off his last cowboy, Andrews receives an abundance of inquiries about Bodacious. Numerous spreads on him have graced publications and memorabilia is prolific.
Bodacious' breeding is managed by Pat Curry, a rancher from Georgetown who also engages in the breeding of high-profile cutting horses. Curry, who owns the bull's semen, said a breeding to Bodacious would cost $600.
However, Curry said that he will allow Bodacious to be bred only to cows whose bloodlines are connected with star rodeo bulls and he's about to embark on a more aggressive campaign to market the bull's legend.
"Bodacious is kind of like Elvis, more famous dead than alive," Andrews said.

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