Thrills in the line of fire
No fear, just a determination to keep PBR’s best bull riders out of harm’s way
HE DRIVES trains for Aurizon by day, but by night he puts his body on the line, as a PBR protection athlete.
Clint Kelly, 25, has been chasing bulls with the well-known organisation since 2012, but being a bull fighter wasn’t how it all began.
Growing up in Cloncurry he used to attend rodeos with his mates for a bit of fun.
“I rode my first junior or rookie bull when I was about 14 or 15, I was never really that good at it though,” he said.
“I had a go at protecting the rider, it really just happened by accident.”
Clint got his big break after living with an ex-PBR protection athlete.
“I was really privileged to live with him, he got me my first start,” he said
“I hadn’t really experienced anything like it before because it’s not like your normal rodeo.
“It’s all bull riding, large crowds, loud music and flames, the works.”
Surprisingly, Clint said it was not the adrenaline that kept him coming back for more.
“It’s a job not many people want to do,” he said.
“So when you get told you’re doing a good job that’s what I keep doing it for.
“We aren’t really scared of the bull, we’re scared of failing to protect the rider after they’ve come off.”
Although helping the rider is serious business, he said there was still time for fun in the arena.
“I’m pretty good mates with the other protection athletes,” he said.
“We try and have as much fun as we can while we’re out there and will talk and have a joke.
“It really helps take away the focus of it being dangerous so we can do a good job.”
While many bucking bulls pass through the chutes, Clint said he treated them all the same.
“At the end of the day I want to see them ride the bull for those eight seconds,” he said.
“A lot of the time it doesn’t happen like that though.”
Clint said they could wear as much or as little protection in the ring as they liked.
“I wear a vest under my jersey and some padded pants under my shorts and that’s pretty much it,” he said.
He said anyone could become a bull fighter.
“People from all walks of life can have a go,” he said.
“It’s all about getting onto the right people and trying to get involved in any way you can.
“Not many people grow up wanting to do it.”
With more events on the PBR circuit still to come, Clint said it was always nice being in the ring at home.
“I get to do it in front of my friends and family which is pretty cool,” he said.
“I get to finish work during the day and do my thing in the ring that night.
“When I tell people what I do it’s a bit of a mixed reaction, not many people know what it is, so it takes a bit of explaining.”
❝ We aren’t really scared of the bull, we’re scared of failing to protect the rider after they’ve come off. — Clint Kelly
FAST MOVES: Clint Kelly works as a train driver for a living. At night however, he steps into the arena to dance with powerful bulls like Fudd.
IN THE HOT SEAT: PBR Australia protection athlete Clint Kelly.