With spit slinging and horns flying, rodeos aren’t just for bull riders anymore. A new type of athlete is taking the sport by storm — bullfighters.

With spit slinging and horns flying, rodeos aren’t just for bull riders anymore. A new type of athlete is taking the sport by storm — bullfighters.
Brandon Lincoln and Kevin James traveled from Arizona to Shawnee to step toe to toe with bulls in order to protect those who ride. They are Team TwoBulls Sports Rub, and they are the first Native American team on the Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Tour.
“We’re out there to protect someone we just met five minutes ago,” Lincoln said.
While most people may think bullfighting is risky, Lincoln and James wouldn’t do anything else.
“Stepping into an arena heightens the risk, but everyone is at risk when they step out the door,” Lincoln said. “Everyone has to get their rush somehow. This is how we get ours.”
Lincoln said people go to an office for work, but their office is in the middle of the dirt arena. “As soon as the gates crack open, that’s our office,” he said.
He said bullfighting is a new day at the office every day they step in the arena. Lincoln said there are a lot of factors to bullfighting.
“It never works like you plan it, you just have to go off reaction,” he said. “You can’t go out and think this is going to happen.”
Lincoln and James are self-taught bullfighters because they grew up on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Nation reservations in Arizona.
“When you step in to a practice pen, you learn quick,” Lincoln said. He went on to say that hospitals weren’t nearby, so they had to be quick on their feet and able to think fast.
Lincoln said he joined professional bullfighting about nine years ago. He wasn’t the guy riding the bulls, so he decided to give bullfighting a chance.
“I figured on was better on my feet than off my feet,” he said.
James said he originally tried bull riding, but he switched to bullfighting about six years ago.
“I figured it was safer to be chased by the bulls than be on their backs,” he said.
Lincoln said getting into  professional bullfighting is not for amateurs, but for someone with experience and someone who wants to push himself  to the next level.
James said professional bullfighters fall under the rodeo personnel category. It is probably the hardest part of the rodeo world to be a part of, because of the long, hard road it takes.
“It’s for guys who want to step up and want the experience,” James said.
When the two aren’t dodging horns or protecting the riders, they prepare with workouts and their daily lives.
Lincoln, who is an iron work tradesman, works all day and goes running at night to get his full physical workout. James said all he does is bullfight, but he keeps in shape in the gym and riding horses.
James said he maintains the “cowboy mentality” of being around horses and bulls every day, so he can compete with them in the arena when it’s necessary.
Amanda Gire may be reached at amanda.gire@news-star.com or at 214-3934.