Maui event honors isle bull rider
Sponsors are being sought for the Myron Duarte Challenge
WAILUKU » Myron Duarte was 13 years old when he rode a steer in his first rodeo at the Oskie Rice Arena on Maui.
"I fell in love with riding bulls instantly," recalled Duarte, one of the top bull riders in the world. Duarte, a 1986 graduate of Baldwin High School, and Professional Bull Riders Inc. are planning to spread some of the enthusiasm for the sport on the Valley Isle, prior to the PBR All-Star Event at the Neal Blaisdell Arena on Oahu on Nov. 17-18.
Plans were announced yesterday for the Myron Duarte Maui Challenge on Nov. 10-11, with 40 bull-riding participants, including 20 of the world's greatest riders.
Professional Bull Riders official Sean Gleason said his firm is reviewing a few locations on Maui and has been in discussions with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, who signed a proclamation declaring March 29 "Myron Duarte Day" in Maui County.
Duarte, son of Manuel and Bernie Duarte of Wailuku, said he was surprised and grateful to receive the honor.
With two sponsors in line, Piiholo Ranch owner Peter Baldwin said the Maui group helping to organize the event is still looking for more backing.
"We have some tremendous challenges to pull this off," Baldwin said.
Gleason said the firm plans to have the bull riders participate in charitable events while on Maui.
He said the firm needs an estimated $850,000 to $1 million to hold the Myron Duarte Maui Challenge. Tickets for the two-day event will cost $22 per day.
Gleason said professional bull riding has been gaining loyal fans, and he believes there is a potential market for the Hawaii events.
"The paniolo heritage is real strong in Hawaii," he said.
For Duarte, 38, ranked third on the PBR money list with more than $1 million in earnings, the road to success as a bull rider has been long and has had its share of tumbles.
Duarte said he began to pursue a career in professional bull riding in 1991, when he left Maui with $3,000 in his pocket.
"I knew it was make or break, but I believed in myself," Duarte said. "I really believed in my ability to do what it takes to get that bull rode."
Duarte said he travels about 100,000 miles per year, going from one bull riding event to the next.
It is not unusual to drive for 12 hours, he said. And then there are the injuries that come from riding a bucking 2,000-pound bull.
"To me, bull riding is dangerous," he said. "You can get hurt."
He has had injuries to a shoulder and knee and six broken ribs, and there is a 6-inch plate with seven pins in his left arm, he said.
Duarte has made the National Finals Rodeo eight times --a feat accomplished by only three others, PBR officials said.
Duarte said he remembers a saying he once read as he approached his high school graduation about picking "a job you like and you'll never work a day in your life."
"I don't think I have worked a day in my life," he said.