Positive thinking is not optional.
Bullfighter/Barrel Man Don “Hollywood” Yates
Thursday, July 15, 2010
When a mountain with horns charges at full speed, a grin splits Don “Hollywood” Yates’ face. That’s also the moment when the seasoned bullfighter and barrel man says to no one in particular, “Bring it on, let’s have some fun.”
Yates, who also claimed fame as Wolf on the physically demanding game show American Gladiators, has been bullfighting for over 20 years. He was gored in 2005. He now works as a barrel man, jumping in to distract the bull when a bullfighter is felled by head, hoof or horn, often arriving for rescue as the half-ton bovine is ready to pound the freestyle fighter’s back or face.
His is the riskiest game of “catch me if you can” – it’s not just for his own tail, but the downed bullfighter’s too. In this business there is little room for mistakes, and less for second-guesses. Think of it as trying to maneuver around a firing range while the riflemen give chase.
With that in mind, Yates feels that if you begin that task with the slightest thought of possible failure, you are preordaining it. You don’t become a warrior with your fingers crossed.
“You need confidence for this or any obstacle you face,” Yates says. “You can never go in there thinking, ‘This may be the day I get hurt’ or it most likely will be.”
The comfort that comes with having a good time is also crucial, he adds. “You show up with the idea of having fun,” he says. “When I’m having fun, I can’t be beat.”
Fellow bullfighter-barrelman Eric Lateman echoes the sentiment, and adds that good music helps channel the positivity. Apparently the rodeo circuit is heavy on AC/DC.
“You don’t want any of that negative energy getting into your head,” he says. “That’s when you start having nightmares. Just have a good time – and if you get knocked down, get right back up.”
And don’t panic. During a fight in Louisiana, Yates broke that rule when a bull rushed at him in reverse. The rest of the round saw him being chased from the barrel to the rails.
“Once you let life or a bull throw you off, bad stuff starts happening,” Yates says. “Just take a step back, remember you game plan and take control.”