Reaching Wayward Souls Eight Seconds at a Time
To those that know Bobby Sikes Jr., hearing that he raises rodeo bulls is probably no surprise. Sikes was a tough as nails defender that struck fear in the hearts of opponents on the 1990 Paris Eagle State Semifinal team. In fact, his love for the rodeo started before then, when he was 15 and started riding bareback. Before long, he strapped himself to the back of the angriest bulls he could find and realized something; he was pretty good at it.
Sikes was always gritty, playing with an injured ankle until he was questioned about his limp. Game film revealed a painful turn that would have sidelined most athletes. During his senior season, Bobby had been out riding bulls on a weeknight during the season, and was gored significantly, opening up a large wound on his ribs. “Coach (Bill) VanMeter sure wasn’t happy with me none. He told me to stop riding, but he knew I wasn’t going to.” Every day they cleaned and packed the wound, and Sikes never missed a practice.
Sikes works in the oil field, and has for many years. In 2001, he was sitting atop the Arkansas Rodeo Association standings, having not been thrown all year. In the finals, he just got one ride in, but it was a solid one, and he finished second. Another significant happening occurred for Sikes in 2001, he received his ministers license.
Working two weeks on and two weeks off, as he has in the field for the last 24 years, Sikes did not have the same opportunities to ride every weekend like others. He made the most of his opportunities and it served him well. Eventually, he focused on his ministry work and raising bulls. Recently, though, he has been a little busier.
“I never thought I would get back at it. My nephew got me back at it. I took one of my bulls to an event and they needed more riders.” After chasing down some gear and cash for the entry fee, Sikes mounted up for the first time in more than ten years, at the age of 48. “The bull jumped out and came around. It just felt natural still.”
Bobby Sikes signed on to the World Senior Bull Riders Association and a year ago started his comeback at a New Year’s Eve event. His first bull went down, and he was granted a re-ride, a re-ride on a World Champion bull. COVID put a big lull in the rodeo action, but in June, Sikes strapped on to a bull in Chillicothe, Missouri in a Riding for Veterans event. “Those events are special. They announce who the veteran is that you are riding for. I was riding for my dad. He was a Vietnam War Veteran.”
Sikes got his full 8 second ride, scored a 79 and won the Senior division. The win put him in the #1 ranking for the WSBRA. He liked it so much, he held on to the position for several months, still only able to ride half of the weekends. He stayed busy this year, going to Shawnee, Oklahoma and scoring a 76, back to Chillicothe where he finished second in the Riding for Veterans event. Add in a JUBR Senior Bull Riding Championship and Sikes was in rarified air for men of any age, much less those approaching the 50 year mark.
Sikes qualified for the Senior Finals this year where he wound up with a buckle, finishing in 8th place in his classification and a strong 10th place overall. “I don’t do it for the buckles and all anymore. I am there to try and reach some of these souls, and if I can do that, I’ll be happy.” Sikes is headed to Durant, Oklahoma this week to start off his new season. “This will be my 25th year riding competitively. It was a foundation for me. We all go through life trying to find what we can do. I realized I could do this. “