At only 18 years old, Southern Rodeo Association (SRA) member, Kristin Mulkey has made a career inside of the arena. Owning a résumé containing the […]
Written by: Lily Landreth< Back to Articles
Wade Hazlet has been fighting bulls for nearly 12 years. Today he is a bull fighter for the APRA and the IPRA, as well as high school and local rodeos. Wade is the 2013 Funny Man of the Year in the APRA, and he has fought bulls for the associations finals on three different occasions.
The funny man and bull fighter grew up in North Washington, Penn. While his family did not farm, Wade experienced farm life whenever he helped his dad’s cousin on his ranch – riding, moving cattle, and doing field work. Wade also helped behind the chutes at the North Washington Rodeo every year, which is what inspired him to want to ride bulls. Before Wade had a chance to ride any bulls, however, he and his best friend, Jarrod Sankey, met a bull fighter named Cory Wall. Wall was fighting bulls at a local rodeo. “Cory Wall happened to have been through a Sankey rodeo school,” says Wade. “We got to talking and found out that Jarrod was related way off to Lyle Sankey.” This news, combined with their keen interest in bull fighting, sent Wade and Jarrod to a Sankey Rodeo School in Rose Hill, Kan. “We were fighting bulls for the guys learning to ride at the school,” Wade recalls. “It was there I turned away from wanting to ride bulls and decided that the safety of the riders was more important.”
Over the four days of the school, Wade and the other Sankey students had the opportunity to fight 300 – 400 bulls. Wade describes some of the ways he learned to bull fight at the school. “We’d watch some videos, but mainly we were chased around by a guy with a wheelbarrow. A person with a wheelbarrow can’t turn a tighter circle than a bull can, so you learn how to maneuver out of the way.” Wade, 20 years old and fresh from the rodeo school, was ready to start his career as a bull fighter. “When I came home from the rodeo school, it was a year and a half before I found a stock contractor who would let me into the arena. It’s extremely hard to find a stock contractor who has an opening or is willing to let you step into the arena. Sam Swearingen from Rawhide Rodeo Company helped me get my IPRA card, and Bill Slader helped me get my APRA card.”
Along with bull fighting, Wade explains the other aspect of his rodeo career – working as a funny man. “Bill McEnaney got me my start as a funny man, as well as Rockin’ Robbie Hodges, another funny man. They let me borrow acts from them to get started. I’m kind of a natural with acting funny and being able to come up with stuff. I’m quick on my feet and my mind is always working.” Wade travels the Northeast through the summer, fighting bulls for APRA and IPRA rodeos, as well as high school rodeos. In 2013 he worked more as a funny man than a bull fighter since he was working on strengthening his knee, which he had torn in 2012 at the beginning of his rodeo season. “I had enough rodeos lined up to fight bulls at the IFR but then I ended up tearing my ACL. I had to have reconstructive surgery. But I made a comeback in 2013.”
Not all of Wade’s time is spent in the arena, however. When rodeo season is slow, Wade works at his full time job as a bridge repairman. He is happily married to his wife, Renee, and together they are raising their 10 month old son, Walker. When he has the opportunity, Wade also enjoys trekking through the great outdoors and hunting.
At 32, Wade plans to log many more years in the rodeo business before retiring, and he continues to work toward his goal of fighting bulls at the IFR.