Young Kundabung Bulls rider Levi Ward aims for World Championship title in Las Vegas

Levi Ward was only six years old when he started riding bulls. Now 14, he is preparing to be named the best in the world.

The young cowboy, who lives in the small town of Kundabung on the state’s north coast, will travel to Las Vegas later this year for the Bull Riding Youth World Finals.

“I’ve never been to Las Vegas but I hear it’s a great vibe and I can’t wait to go,” Levi said.

Riding a bull weighing up to 400 kilograms is a daunting prospect for any adult, let alone a 14-year-old, but Levi takes it all in stride.

“I trained a lot, it’s fun but it’s hard work, but you have to do it so your body gets used to it.”

Become a junior champion

Levi started riding bulls when he was six years old.

“A local bull rider called Brad Scott, who is a former champion himself, saw [Levi] competing in the barrel race at the Macksville Show,” Levi’s father Dean Ward said.

“He invited us to come down to his property and ride some of his horses… Levi ended up trying one of the steers [bulls].”

Levi Ward hopes to win his first world championship title in Las Vegas this year.(Provided: Dean Ward)

Mr Ward took Levi to a rodeo in Moonbi, near Tamworth, for his first bull competition in 2015.

“He’s six years old, it’s his very first competition and he’s winning it,” he said.

Levi joined the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association and over the next 12 months he participated in almost 20 rodeos.

At age 8, he was cleared to compete in the under-11s, for a junior bull riding champion title.

“He won his first, second and third years at the under-11s,” Mr Ward said.

In 2018, Levi competed in the Youth Bull Riding World Finals in Texas.

“He was riding in the under-12s when he was nine years old, but he was pushed back and finished 11th in the world,” Mr Ward said.

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The following year, Levi returned to Texas but just missed out on first place, finishing second, but he hopes to take the win this year.

An expensive trip

Competing in rodeos across Australia and the world doesn’t come cheap.

Mr Ward said the family had to make some big financial decisions to help make Levi’s dreams come true.

The family held fundraisers and auctions to bring Levi to the United States in 2019 and will do the same this year.

“We’ve had so much support from the community and it really means a lot to us.”

Bullfighting and horse riding in the family – in 2018 Levi and his older sister Bobbi were crowned Australian Cowgirl and Cowboy, the first time a sibling has achieved it.

Levi Ward stands next to his sisters Franki and Bobbi.  They all have trophies in their arms.
Levi Ward competes with his sisters Franki and Bobbi.(Provided: Dean Ward)

Her younger sister Franki is not yet on the bull but is a promising barrel racer.

“Franki has the Australian title this year for barrel racing,” Mr Ward said.

“She actually beat Levi in ​​the 2020 barrel racing final.

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Earnest L. Veasey