Bull riding descends on MSG

Garden hosting 100 raging bulls
January 4, 2008 3:03:44 PM PST
Madison Square Garden is about to be transformed into a bull riding Mecca of the northeast. The Professional Bull Riders contest will begin Friday at MSG, with nearly two million pounds of dirt being hauled into the arena Thursday night.

A herd of 100 raging bulls will descend on New York City, while riders from around the world flock to the area.

Thirty-seven year-old Adriano Moraes is the oldest rider competing. He weighs just 185 pounds, but could face off against a beast weighing more than a ton.

"It's not a matter of if you get injured, but when and how bad," he told the New York Daily News. "That's why I do it, for the challenge of riding a wild animal. You're always scared."

Forty-five of the world's top riders will try to stay on top of their bull for at least eight seconds, while the animal bucks its way around in front of thousands.

Organizers say 45,000 pounds of steel will be used to construct the gates and fences separating contestants and bulls from the spectators.

"It's probably one of the most dangerous sports you can compete in," last year's world champ, Justin McBride, told the newspaper. He will not compete Friday night because of a shoulder injury, but he is expected to give it a go on Saturday. "In most sports, you're competing against another human and there's a referee there to step in if things get out of hand. In this sport, you can't blow a whistle and make it stop."

With competitors like Whoopy Dinger, Irishman Pat and Shock the Monkey, these animals mean business. And after nine major surgeries and 25 broken bones, Moraes is one of the more experienced riders in the field.

"I've been preparing for 20 years physically, mentally and spiritually," he told the Daily News. "If I don't try my hardest, anything could go wrong. But I've been doing it for so long the only way I can describe it is that it's my passion."

This is the second time Madison Square Garden has hosted the event. McBride says he feels the sport has finally reached the big time. Celebrities are expected to snap up ringside seats, but the former champ told the Daily News he doesn't need roaring fans or famous faces to inspire him.

"Any time you get on a bull, that's about all the psyching up you need," he said.