Not all professional bull riders grow up living the life of a cowboy.
Most don’t have to sneak around behind their parents’ backs just to ride horses, but that’s a major reason why Fabiano Vieira didn’t start focusing on bull riding until he was 22 years old.
In only seven years and without the benefit of learning the fundamentals as a junior bull rider, Vieira has established himself as one of the Top 10 bull riders in the entire world.
He got on his first two bulls at the age of 18. Both times he broke his collar bone, and didn’t attempt another bull for two more years. At 21, the Perola, Brazil native started riding with some regularity, and within a year’s time he was winning almost as often as he was competing.
Vieira met Silvano Alves while they were both in Brazil competing in the Crystal Cup Series.
At nearly every event, they finished first and second in the average. Both had dreams of one day competing in the United States, so they moved from the Crystal events to PBR Brazil.
To make the transition from Brazil to the U.S., a rider must be ranked in the Top 20 of the Super Brahma tour.
Only then are Brazilian riders afforded the opportunity to come up and either work their way to the BFTS from the Touring Pro Division, or wait until the PBR World Finals, and then begin riding at BFTS events the following year.
Alves and Vieira went to an event in Barretos, where Vieira took first and Alves was second. A short time later, Adriano Moraes brought Alves to the U.S. as part of the World Cup team for 2010. Vieira soon followed.
For the past year, he’s been living with Alves.
This weekend, Vieira, whose wife and newborn child are expected to join him in Decatur, Texas, this coming week, is competing in his 16th Built Ford Tough Series event of the year and 23rd overall.
After claiming his first event win last week in Tulsa, Okla., he moved into the Top 10 of the world standings for the first time. He’s currently seventh, and after two of four rounds in San Antonio, he’s splitting sixth in the average with three other riders.
He’s hoping to accomplish what would be his seventh Top 10 finish of the year, or better yet, his third consecutive Top 5 finish Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
His riding average of 63.8 percent is third-highest among the Top 40 riders, behind only Alves (66.7 percent) and Valdiron de Oliveira (65.7 percent). Robson Palermo is the only other rider with an average above 60 percent.
It’s not a bad place to be for a 29-year-old second-year pro, whose parents weren’t even keen on allowing their son to ride horses, let alone the rankest bulls in the world.
With the help of a translator, Vieira joked, “They’re not sitting at home crying about it.”
— by Keith Ryan Cartwright
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