Eight seconds. It can mean the difference between walking away with a cash purse or a bruised ego. Just ask Cody Hancock.
The world champion bull rider has enough guts and determination packed into his 150-pound body to climb on top of a bull and live to tell about it. Fear is not in his vocabulary. “This is what I do,” Hancock says. “I love riding bulls.”
Since he was just 5, Hancock, who comes from a long line of rough-and-tumble cowboys, dreamed of becoming a world champion. His great-grandfather was a ranch foreman at Bordon Ranch in Taylor, an eastern Arizona ranching community on the banks of Silver Creek.
Hancock’s father, Ray, a former bull rider, introduced him and his younger brother, Wyatt, to the sport and taught them everything they know.
Today, at 26, Hancock is an emerging star in a sport that has exploded in popularity. Rodeo fans flock to arenas from coast to coast to watch 2,000-pound bulls with names such as Hollywood and Red Wolf square off with riders.
“It’s always been, more or less, the event that people come to see because of the danger involved,” says Shawn Davis, general manager of the National Finals Rodeo and Hancock’s college rodeo coach. “The American public … likes the unknown and the excitement of that kind of a challenge.”
Hancock’s come-from-behind style has made him a fan favorite. Two years ago, the bull rider battled back from 15th place to capture the world title in one of the biggest victories in the history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. A year later, Hancock broke a 25-year record set by cowboy Don Gay for the highest-marked bull ride. In February, he won a bronze medal in bull riding at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
“Cody has lots of ability,” Davis says, “but over and above his ability is his determination.”
Hancock explains it simply. “You get bucked off, and you’ve got to come back,” he says. “It’s an endurance thing. You’ve got to keep your head up and try hard on every bull.”
When he’s not traveling the circuit—his sights set on winning at the National Finals Rodeo in December—Hancock lives in Taylor, his hometown, with his wife, Rinda and young daughter, Tyree. In keeping with family tradition, he’s building a house near the old Bordon Ranch.
Taylor has dubbed him a hero, but fame and success haven’t gone to his head. He’s still the same hometown boy with a big dream.
The only difference now is he’s living that dream.