Dean Berry in action as a bullfighter. Berry was awarded the Australian Professional Rodeo Association 2018 Australian Champion Bullfighter of the year.
Dean Berry in action as a bullfighter. Berry was awarded the Australian Professional Rodeo Association 2018 Australian Champion Bullfighter of the year. Contributed

Champion bullfighter shares his life in the rodeo ring

RODEO: Playing a game of "chicken” has led to the biggest achievement of Biloela man Dean Berry's rodeo career.

Berry, a rodeo clown, was awarded the Australian Professional Rodeo Association 2018 Australian Champion Bullfighter of the year.

Not based on a points system like the bull riders, bullfighters awards are voted by the top 10 bull riders.

Out in the field, the bullfighters work in a group of two and the aim is to "protect the bull rider as much as you can”, Berry said.

To be given this award and be considered by his colleagues was a special moment, Berry said.

"Considering I have been doing this since I was 16 ... and this is the first time I have been given the award ... it makes you feel appreciated,” he said.

Dean Berry at the Great Western Hotel a few years ago.
Dean Berry at the Great Western Hotel a few years ago. Allan Reinikka

The bragging rights and the shiny new buckle will push Berry to keep on bullfighting.

"Bit of appreciation to keep going on another year of on the road,” he said.

This year, Berry has travelled all over the nation, standing in the rodeo field, distracting bulls from the riders.

He has been to the Extreme Bulls in Sydney at the beginning of the year, Cloncurry, Springsure, Clermont, St George and many others in between.

"Done a fair bit of travelling ... been to a lot of towns this year,” he said.

The rodeo crowd is a close-knit community, many of Berry's mates ride bulls as well.

Berry says it is worth all the cracked ribs in the world.
Berry says it is worth all the cracked ribs in the world. Contributed

Two of his cousins were awarded top gongs at the Australian Professional Rodeo Association finals at the Warwick Rodeo.

Brady Fielder, 18, Clermont, took home the title of the 2018 Australia Champion Bullrider of the year and also the Warwick Rodeo Aggregate Bull Rider.

Strawb Jones, also from Clermont, was awarded the Warwick Rodeo Aggregate Bareback Bronc Rider.

"When you're travelling, all the people you travel with become your family as well,” Berry said.

Berry works with another bullfighter and they protect the bullriders from the bulls.
Berry works with another bullfighter and they protect the bullriders from the bulls. Contributed

Berry became a bullfighter because he was "too useless” at bull riding when he was younger, he said.

"I chose to get hurt... do it on my own terms,” he said.

Despite getting the odd cracked ribs and even a torn knee at the start of the year, Berry is hooked on the life of bullfighting.

"There is a few mornings where you can't roll out of the bed in the morning... feel like you've been hit by a truck,” he said.

"It's the adrenaline rush ... knowing you can step in front of a 600-800kg bull and have control of the situation.

"The whole atmosphere ... I love the bulls ... I know a lot of the bulls.”

You won't be seeing Berry hanging up his hat any time soon.

"I will keep doing it until I am too old and useless to keep doing it,” he said.

"Not until the game retires me.”



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