Michael HowlettStaff Writer
February 1, 2013
When Billy Robinson goes to work, it’s always a rough day. There’s no sitting at a desk talking on the phone, no business luncheons, no small talk around the water cooler; when Robinson goes to work, his only job is to stay on a whirling mass of muscle, brutality and anger for eight seconds.
Robinson plies his trade on the Professional Bull Riders circuit. He is currently having the best season of his 15 years as a professional rider, moving up to sixth place in the points standings prior to the Oklahoma City event last weekend.
“I’ve actually been real fortunate,” said Robinson, who has thus far avoided injury. “Everything is going good so far. I’m hoping to have a real good year.”
Robinson captured the top spot in the Chicago Invitational on Jan. 13, his first win since the 2007 season. The win also boosted his earnings to over $40,000 with around 30 events remaining in the season. His previous earnings high was a little over $86,000, also in 2007.
The Galax native got interested in bull riding while in high school.
“I started when I was about 15 or 16. I had some buddies who wanted to try it,” said Robinson. “It started out as just a bunch of guys goofing off, but I enjoyed it and found out I was pretty good at it, so I stuck with it.”
There have been ups and downs for Robinson, who has bounced back and forth between the Built Ford Tough Series and the Touring Pro Division for the past decade. A lot of that has had to do with injuries. Robinson has had both shoulders operated on, in addition to suffering a broken leg, a broken jaw and other smaller injuries.
He suffered the broken jaw just before last year’s World Finals, the super bowl of bull riding, which dropped him to 37th in the standings. In an effort to qualify for the finals, Robinson wore a helmet, something he never done, during the final two events of season, but came up short. He has since practiced riding with a helmet in an effort to get accustomed to it.
“Everybody wears a protective vest now and helmets have really picked up in the last five or six years,” noted Robinson, who added that injuries are just part of the sport. “If you ride a bull, you’re going to be injured. Nobody likes getting hurt, but that can happen to you just walking down the street.”
Robinson said he has been lucky to make it to the finals eight times and is hoping to be in Las Vegas Oct. 23-27 when this year’s event takes place.
“The PBR finals are like the Olympics,” said Robinson. “We’ve got guys from Brazil, Australia, it’s as tough a competition as you can find. When you go to the finals, you have the opportunity to win $500,000. But it’s not just the money, it’s a big accomplishment to get there.”