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2001/07/10

Ty Murray Enjoys Competing Against The Best by Kevin DeBusk In 1988, a shy young cowboy from Stephenville, Texas, by the name of Ty Murray, walked into a PRCA dressing room hoping to make a name for himself. He did just that, winning the PRCA Resistol Overall and Bareback Rookie of the Year honors. Murray went on to win seven World All-Around titles and was 1993 and 98 World Bull Riding Champion. Today, Ty is considered by his peers "The King of the Cowboys," one of the all-time great. He is a founding member of the Professional Bull Riders Association (PBR) and since 1999 has fully devoted himself to competing in the PBR Bud Light Cup Tour. In 1999 Murray won the PBR Finals and finished runner-up for the PBR world title in 1999 and 2000. Murray sits second in 2001 with $175,851.79 in winnings and has a 75.51 riding percentage. "The Professional Bull Riders Association (PBR) has taken this sport to a whole new level," Murray said, after being sutured. "When you come to a PBR event you're only seeing the best guys in the world. It's not like a rodeo where anybody can enter. "Ever week we are riding against the best guys and the bulls are great. We don't hire a stock contractor to put our events on, we tell stock contractors which bulls they can bring to an event. We might have ten or fifteen stock contractors. Therefore, it breeds itself and causes everything to get better. It makes the bulls worth more money and makes guys pursue them harder. "It makes the guys have to ride better because not only are you riding ranker bulls, you're riding against the best guys." Offering the best bulls and riders has given the PBR a very marketable product. "Television coverage is growing the sport," Murray commented. "I think having a followable sport has been a big key. They're not coming and watching a show. They can keep up with it on television, the internet and magazines. They can see who's sitting where and what their favorite cowboy needs to do. I think that creates interest in this. It's not like going to a circus; it's taken the form of a sport. "Every aspect of it is growing. We're seeing a little different demographics in this sport than what you would at traditional rodeos. You see a little younger and more enthusiastic crowd, with a little more rock and roll. The excitement in the air is thrilling." With growing popularity, Murray realizes you have to make the fans happy. After each PBR performance, riders take time to sign autographs. "You have to be as generous to your fans as you can," he said. "It doesn't matter what sports you're talking about, fans are the most important element. Take away fans and you take away the sport. Sponsors and riders don't want to be involved in it because there's no money. We appreciate our fans and they're what make this sport exciting and fun. When you're out there, like tonight, giving it everything you've got and you have an entire auditorium packed with fans on their feet, screaming their heads off for you, that's what makes this so fun and exciting for everybody." With his fan popularity and earning the title of "King of the Cowboys" does this add extra stress to Murray while riding? "That doesn't have nothing to do with anything," he responded. "The bulls can't read what your buckle says and wouldn't care if they could. The thing I stay focused on is trying my guts out every time I ride. It doesn't matter what I did last year or yesterday. That's a big key to staying at the top in this game, is making sure every time the gate comes open you're trying your guts out. "I try to be myself. I think it would be to hard to go around faking it all the time. I try to be a decent human. "The hard part about whatever level of fame you might reach is it's not so much that you change, but the way you're perceived, changes. It goes from when you were eighteen and nobody knew you when you walked into a locker room and you were not really shy but not outgoing to when you reach a certain level of fame and you're not outgoing people think you're stuck-up. It's just you're perceived different when you reach that level. I try to make sure I'm trying harder than everybody else, all the time."

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