Juan Alonzo, 24, of Weslaco, Texas, who served five years in the U.S. Army including a tour in Iraq will be making personal history at the 38th George Paul Memorial Bull Riding this weekend.
Alonzo will be making his first trip to Del Rio as a professional bull rider while also being the first United States veteran to compete in the recent history of the George Paul, according to event producer Bobby Paul.
Despite experiencing combat on a daily basis, Alonzo always wanted to become a bull rider.
“I love this sport, this is all I ever wanted to do and it’s always been on my mind,” said Alonzo, who even during his deployment would practice on a homemade bull machine made with a barrel and rope. “Right after I got in the military, they wanted to keep me in and send me to Special Forces to do all kinds of stuff. But I turned everything down and told them ‘No. I want to ride bulls for the rest of my life.’”
More than a year has passed since Alonzo traded combat boots for cowboy boots, and as a rookie in the bull riding world, he has worked hard to move up the ranks, now at No. 10 in the CBR standings. But more impressive than that fact is that he has posted qualified rides in five of the twelve events he has attended and four of the five were for 90 point plus scores.
Alonzo’s top score was in Lufkin, Texas on February 28 where he was 91.5 on Mike Rawson’s Black Betty. He has also qualified four times for the Shoot Out round, the CBR Tournament style format which features a four man shoot out round to win the event titles on the Mahindra Road to Cheyenne.
“It’s about who’s got the biggest heart and who wants it real bad,” Alonzo said. “Yeah, it’s going to be rough, you’re going to be scared, but you’ve got to know how to control your fear and go on with your business and let your skill and muscle memory take over.
“You’ve just got to stay on for eight seconds, throw your hat in the air and make a big smile and wave at the crowd. It’s a pretty good feeling.”
Action gets underway at the Val Verde Fairgrounds on Friday, April 24 at 8 p.m. with the first round of Championship Bull Riding. Forty cowboys will compete to try to win a RAM Country Dodge Ram Truck valued at $35,000, courtesy of Ram Country Dodge, Del Rio.
For ticket information call (830) 775-9595, the George Paul office at the Val Verde County Fairgrounds. General Admission tickets are available for purchase at Cowboy John’s, Del Rio Feed and Supply and C & S Western Wear.
Title sponsor is Ram Country with presenting sponsor Bud Light. Ramada Inn, Cripple Creek, Del Rio Feed and Supply and Tractor Supply also are long time event sponsors. Visa, Master Card, and Discovery Cards are accepted at the bull riding office.
Performance times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night.