FORT WORTH, Texas ― Wednesday afternoon the PBR will say goodbye to a bull man, while remembering the fond memories of a friend, who was considered by those who knew him—as family.
Kent Cox, 42, was like a brother to fellow stock contractors, treated bull riders like members of his immediate family and a father-figure to the dozens of bucking bulls he raised, handled and hauled until his untimely death Thursday, Feb. 27.
The Lockney, Texas, native will be eulogized during a public memorial service at the Lone Star Arena, in Stephenville, Texas, before being laid to rest.
“He’ll be missed by many and especially me,” said Julio Moreno, owner of two-time and current World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
“It breaks my heart, because he had so much going for him,” said H.D. Page. “It’s hard to understand.”
“It was a shock to the system—losing him,” said four-time Stock Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson. “I don’t know—I’m at a loss for words, so I really don’t know what to say.”
Cox was regarded as one of the most well-liked stock contractors on the Built Ford Tough Series.
His awe-shucks personality was exemplified by his good natured demeanor and an unyielding willingness to help those – be it longtime friends or casual acquaintances – which were in need of a helping hand, a few kind words or an ear to bend.
Cox was, to say the least, the very spirit of selfless.
“The memory I have of him is that he always had a smile on his face and never had a bad thing to say,” recalled Robinson, whose last extended conversation with the veteran contractor was a two-hour long conversation while Cox drove from Texas to California for a recent BFTS event in Anaheim, Calif., last month.
“I don’t think we had talked about bulls other than I had asked him to flank my bulls the next day because I had missed my flight.”
By most accounts, Cox was a simple man – who used equally simple words – and oftentimes responded to bad news by smiling and replying with, “Awe hell, I don’t know…” However, in stark contrast to his otherwise simple ways, when it came to bulls, especially young and rambunctious futurity and classic bulls, he was an intellectual.
Some say he was in a league of his own.
Cox was described by many as kind and fair, while remaining honest and forthright.
Patient would be another common adjective used to describe him.
When it came to developing young would-be buckers into prize BFTS-caliber bucking bulls—the likes of which included Charlie Bullware, Troubadour, Top Notch, Back Bender and, of late, Bushwacker—fellow contractor and longtime friend Toby Floyd said his friend’s “skills and expertise were second to none.”
Floyd added, “Our whole industry will be hurt without his presence here.”
As a bull man, Cox worked with three ABBI Classic Champions and two-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker, who will be retired at the end of the 2014 season.
“He’s done the best job anybody could ever do with a bull,” said Moreno, who has two more young bulls he was anxious to have Cox work with. “Bushwacker lost a good friend, partner, father. Kent will be with us the whole time.”
Reigning World Champion J.B. Mauney added, “He will be missed and it won’t be the same getting on Bushwacker.”
Cox was born on June 25, 1971, in the Texas Panhandle town of Lockney, and raised on a ranch in nearby Abilene, where he first pursued saddle bronc and bull riding.
He attended Vernon Junior College, where he lived with Floyd for two years, on a rodeo scholarship and was among the first bull riders to compete in the PBR – at the time he and Aaron Semas lived with Jim Sharp for a year or more – until an injury cut short his professional bull riding career in 1995.
Cox remained in Erath County for more than two decades.
In recent years, he’s become known as a world-renowned bull handler.
Again, he was considered by colleagues to be in a league of his own.
Cox began working with cattle in 1998, the same year he met Julio Moreno. He started working with Moreno’s younger bulls, namely Charlie Bullware, in 2005, and his career handling and hauling bulls began to flourish two years later with Troubadour.
“For the limited amount of bulls he’s hauled I don’t think anybody has had the success he’s had,” Robinson said. “You knew whatever Kent brought was going to be competitive.”
“He showed a lot of guys what hard work and dedication is,” Page said, “and that if you love and care for your animals that they’ll pay you back.”
Bushwacker is revered as the greatest bucking bull of all time, in large part because of Cox, who has worked with and trained the bull since he was 2 years old.
“It was a give and take deal between Bushwacker and Kent,” explained Floyd, who added the popular bull gave his friend pleasure, fame and enjoyment. “He has great genetics, but he wouldn’t have been as great as he is without Kent.”
Cox has raised, handled and hauled Bushwacker for his entire history-making career on the BFTS.
The single-most indelible image of Cox came last August.
Kent Cox congratulates J.B. Mauney for riding Bushwacker last August in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.
“He was a bull man,” said Mauney, who has matched up with Bushwacker 12 times and famously snapped his BFTS record of 42 consecutive buckoffs on that memorable night, in Tulsa, Okla.
“Most stock contractors,” Mauney continued, “they pull for their bull even against them guys they’re buddies with, more pulling for the bull than the rider. He was the first one to jump in the arena and gave me a big ole hug.”
Wednesday afternoon’s services will be handled by Stephenville Funeral Home.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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