BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. - A 23-year-old from Lone Tree was one of two bullfighters injured at the Boulder County Fair.
Vinnie Garcia twice attempted a back flip over a bull on Friday, but ended up on the ground, trampled, then tossed like a rag doll by an animal he estimates weighed 1,200 pounds. A cell phone camera captured what happened.
"All I remember is crawling out of the arena, someone pulled me out," Garcia said. "I was screaming pain and then I passed out."
Garcia was wearing a protective vest, but said the bull missed the padding, causing internal injuries that put him in the hospital for two days.
"My injuries were a severely bruised kidney, liver and gall bladder," Garcia said.
He emphasizes that competitions like the one at the fair are about getting as close to the bull as possible, not hurting the animal. There's the potential to win money, but Garcia says competing is just a side-bar to his real profession: protecting bull riders after they fall.
"Once a cowboy gets bucked off a bull, my job is to be there immediately to distract that bull from injuring the bull rider," he said.
He doesn't like to be called a rodeo clown because he takes what he does seriously.
"That's the best honor any bullfighter can have -- when a bull rider trusts his life in your hands. And that's the best honor I' ve had, and that's why I do this," Garcia said.
He says despite his injuries, he's planning to get back in the arena at the end of August.
"A lot of people don't understand it, and they call me crazy," he said. "But it's something that I love."
The Longmont Times-Call reports that another bullfighter from Colorado, John Jesse, had a broken arm after being run over by a bull. He's been released from the hospital.