YOUNG PROFESSIONAL BLACK BULL RIDER COMPETES AT TOP LEVEL

Ezekiel Mitchell began bull riding when he was 15. He persisted
and is competing with Top Bull Riding Professionals. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANDY WATSON/ BULL STOCK MEDIA
Ezekiel Mitchell began bull riding when he was 15. He persisted and is competing with Top Bull Riding Professionals. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANDY WATSON/ BULL STOCK MEDIA

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL BLACK BULL RIDER COMPETES AT TOP LEVEL

By TIA CAROL JONES

Ezekiel Mitchell wanted to be a bull rider. He was always fascinated by the rodeo and the sport of bull riding. His father was a ‘Horse Dentist’, and he would go to shows with him. When the opportunity presented itself at the age of 15 for him to compete as a bull rider, he took it.

Mitchell described his first time being on a bull as amazing. It was a feeling like none other, and he knew that bull riding was something he wanted to do and something he would continue to pursue for the rest of his life.

Now, at 24 years of age, Mitchell is competing as one of the World’s Top 35 Professional Bull Riders and has been ranked in the Top 30 for the past three seasons. This month, Mitchell competed at the Unleash the Beast’s Tractor Supply Co. Invitational at the Allstate Arena.

Mitchell described bull riding as ‘chaos’ trying to be controlled. It is a super exciting eight seconds, where if someone gets bucked off it is interesting and if someone rides the full time, it is interesting. There is never a dull moment.

Nothing really goes through Mitchell’s mind during those eight seconds on the bull. In the sport of bull riding, if you’re thinking, you’re not reacting. And, if you’re not reacting, you’re on the ground. “You just try to keep your mind clear, and thinking is an afterthought,”
he said.

He considers himself a bull rider and a cowboy but wouldn’t call himself a Black Bull Rider . He believes that as long as he is doing his job, nobody really cares about his skin color. At the same time, he does take pride in being a Black Bull Rider , because there hasn’t always been Black people represented, or prominent, in the sport.

“I just like letting little kids know that look like me, or may not look like me, that you can do whatever you want no matter what your nationality is. If you have the will to do something you can do it,” he said.

In 2021, Mitchell was part of a 10-episode Snap - chat docuseries, Life By The Horns, which follows his journey to becoming the first African American bull rider to win the title in more than 35 years. It came from a commercial he shot with a friend. The producer saw the interaction between the two friends, thought it was unique and cool, and wanted to make a show of it. “I think it went very well, it was beautifully produced, and it was an experience that I’ll never for get,” he said.

Mitchell appreciates the camaraderie he has with the other bull riders. All of the professional bull riders are either friends or fans of each other. He said it isn’t something you will see in some other sports. They help each other with their ropes; while they compete with each other, they remain friends.

“It’s a sport that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen because it almost goes back to basic competition for man against beast. I think that’s something cool and unique that you don’t get to see anymore,” he said.

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