What Makes the ‘Best Bull Rider of All Time’? Confidence & Hard Work

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Tony Maples Photography


James Burton “J.B.” Mauney is a professional bull rider. That may not otherwise seem that fascinating if it weren’t for the fact that he’s one of only two in the sport to stay on the bull they called Bushwacker for the full 8 seconds (during the Built Ford Tough Series) and one of only three bull riders who lasted on the same bull for the full 8 seconds during that bull’s entire career. Not only that, but he’s one of only five bull riders to get a qualified ride on a bull named Asteroid, which he managed in San Antonio, Texas, in 2012. Is he the best bull rider of all time? His counterparts believe him to be. So does VICE Sports. They interviewed Mauney in 2018 to see what makes him the success that he is, and the details behind his drive and passion for the sport are relatable to any achievement in life you wish to make. The impossible can happen, if you have confidence and work at it.

To hear those in the field speak of Mauney, you’d almost think he was an anomaly. “I’ve never seen a day out of J.B. where he wasn’t expecting to be first,” and “…things that J.B. does, I don’t see out of anyone else,” are just two of the comments those in the sport have said in the interview below. “He’s got a level of confidence that is so beyond, that there’s not a bull in the world that he believes can buck him off, there’s not a title in the world that he can’t win, there’s not a mountain he can’t climb, or anything he can’t do,” is another in support of his mastery of the sport and recognition of what makes him tick. If you’ve ever looked for inspiration in anything, or wanted to know what drives achievement, you just might find it in J.B. Mauney.

Video: YouTube/VICE Sports

Shared on the VICE Sports YouTube channel, this roughly 13-minute mini-documentary on the makings of the professional bull rider accomplishments of J.B. Mauney has its motivational ingredients. This isn’t just a celebratory clip of a PBR competitor. It’s the dissected details of what makes his success. “I’d rather be a cowboy than just a bull rider any day…” is one of the perhaps surprising comments from Mauney over the course of this piece. “Being a cowboy and not strictly a bull rider helps you. Because, I mean, I’m not just riding a horse, I’m working on my legs, your balance, things like that…” he explains. The sport has clearly evolved from what may, at one time, have been something completely reckless to a balance between cowboys and athletes. J.B. Mauney appears to subscribe to the former, but he incorporates balance into the mix. “Balance for me is a huge part. It doesn’t matter how big you are, you’re not going to out-muscle a d*mn 1,800-pound bull,” he explains, as he literally balances on a ball in the shop at his home. And, to hear him talk, it’s definitely about work. “I was the kid with the try when the other guys had the talent…You work at it until the very last bull you get on,” he notes. “If you’re not doing this to be the best at it, then you might as well stop now,” he says. And isn’t that something we can all relate to?