Haskell, Texas, freestyle bullfighter Weston Rutkowski has always been a competitor at heart.

The 29-year-old competed Wednesday night in freestyle bullfighting in association with Bullfighters Only at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

Rutkowski has a busy week with two Wrangler Bullfight Tour stops at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs and Vernal, Utah. He’s coming off of a win in Cody, Wyoming, from a week and a half ago.

Rutkowski grew up as a rodeo kid.

“It’s kind of been in my blood,” Rutkowski said. “I rode bulls for quite a while and just wasn’t ever as good as I wanted to be and fought a bull one day and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since.”

He started fighting bulls seven years ago at 22.

“I was late to the party but I joined as quick as I could,” Rutkowski said.

Freestyle bullfighting is an individual sport in which the bullfighter attempts to stay as close as possible to the bull for as long as possible without getting touched for 60 seconds.

“It’s kind of our way of showing our athleticism,” Rutkowski said. “Kind of showing off our abilities in the arena as well as lettin’ the animal show what he’s truly bred for: to fight.”

Rutkowski’s greatest accomplishment is winning the Bullfighters Only world competition in Las Vegas back to back in 2016 and 2017.

“I’ve won the world the last two years in a row in freestyle bullfightin’ and I’m lookin’ to win that third in a row,” Rutkowski said.

Rutkowski shared what he felt after winning the world championship.

“This is my sole job,” Rutkowski said. “I fight bulls for a livin’ so I go in and I work out just as hard as an NFL runnin’ back or a professional athlete, cause we are professional athletes. But it’s just that moment of all the other long nights of driving and the long nights at the gym (paying off). It’s that true feeling of (accomplishment) for that year.”

Rutkowski’s biggest injury so far has been destroying his right ankle in 2015. He had reconstructive surgery and had to sit out for two and a half months, but he said the hardest part was trusting his ankle again, knowing that the doctors did their job and recovering.

This competitor is hungry for victory and knows when he’s won or lost. And if he doesn’t, he can count on the bull to let him know.

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Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

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