With the Spirit of the Navajo Nation on his shoulders, Cody Jesus, a left-handed bull rider from Sawmill, Arizona arrived on the professional bull riding scene and kept pace with World Champions from his first nod in 2016 to January 2018 where he received the largest payout of his young career.
The storied career of this young rider is rooted in faith, family, and friendship on both sides of the chute. Traveling with his brothers, continually hailed by the Navajo Nation we will no doubt see Jesus on September 5, 2018, for the Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding in Window Rock, Arizona.
“It is exciting to see a young guy come into a big event and deliver, it is extremely difficult to be successful at the highest level, and he was riding with extreme confidence which is a very important factor in bull riding,” said Hedeman.
As the event champion, Jesus earned 272.50 points on 3 bulls, and collect the $46,075.00 payday at the Hobbs Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding held annually at the Lea County Events Center in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Jesus is the former Indian National Finals Rodeo Junior Champion, the 2015 Navajo Nation Champion bull rider, and the 2017 CBR Finals Champion. Cody began riding with the Navajo rodeo associations in high school. He first came to the forefront when he won the 2015 Navajo Nation Fair. He earned his first professional title in Rio Rancho in 2017 thus demonstrating he could not only compete at the national level but to date, he has posted ten 90 points plus scored rides.
Battling the flu as he arrived in Hobbs, 19-year-old Cody Jesus managed to produce three spectacular 90 point plus rides to win a piece of the 2018 Hobbs Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding which paid out $100,000 to the bull rider athletes.
“It was a life-changing moment for me tonight, I want to thank Tuff for providing such a great atmosphere to come and compete, the way I was feeling I was not sure my body could even last,” said the Navajo Champion bull rider holding his jumbo check.
Jesus led the event from the first two rounds of the three-round tournament style event and earned the right to pick first in the sudden death “shootout” round. He selected N1 Bet N Black.
“The first two guys came out and made 2 really great bull rides, that just fired me up,” said Jesus. Taking advice from Hedeman that the bull from Elite could go either way, Jesus, a left-hander, gambled on N1. Jesus was 92 points for the win as he glanced Hedeman’s way with a big smile.
“Bull riding is an individual sport and everyone has a different way of executing - learning to ride at the highest level is hard and I mean riding when it means something, no matter where you are,” continued Hedeman when asked about Jesus’s performance.
The Navajo Nation, who annually brings bull riding to Window Rock is extremely proud of their new rising star.
“The Navajo people love the sport of rodeo and especially bull riding and anytime a Navajo competitor in any rodeo event is doing well the people fully support the athlete because he or she represents the Navajo Nation and people. I believe that Cody demonstrates that spirit in the sport he excels,” said Martin Begaye, Department Director at Navajo Parks and Recreation.
Jesus began his pro career after being invited by four-time World Champion and Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer, Tuff Hedeman, to ride in Window Rock, Arizona and then again in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Hedeman, a notorious mentor of young bull riding talent, Hedeman then cultivated Jesus’s career by assisting him with travel and arrangements. Jesus of Sawmill, Arizona, kept pace with three World Champions and surpassed the top three men to win the average title in Cheyenne last summer where the eighteen-year-old Navajo bull rider left the arena at Frontier Park with a $41,050.00, a life-changing moment of his young career…and life.
“You are always going to have strong rookies because bull riding is a sport of hunger and desire and your flame as a new guy is burning pretty hot when you are young. We create opportunities for rookies that they don’t see everywhere else, our job is to give them great bucking bulls and a comfortable atmosphere,” continued Hedeman.
“He’s a bad cat, we witnessed the start of a long illustrious career and it’s happening right now to Cody. Last year in Window Rock he ask me to pull his rope and he was a pile of points and I knew he would be one to watch,” said World Champion Sage Kimzey on watching Jesus win the title he earned last year.
In the beginning
According to Heather Duncan, Cody’s mom it all started when he was fourteen years old.
“One beautiful summer morning when Cody woke up and walked into the kitchen he said "Mom, I want to ride bulls,” said the very grateful mom.
She quickly hung a barrel from two trees in the backyard and he was always on it. Next, she found him a practice pen and eventually bought a bull and built a little arena.
“We have an old bull riding tape from 1995, which we are grateful we still had a VCR that worked so he would watch that. He began to watch his rides and comprehend the sport. I took him anywhere and everywhere so that he could ride. His older brother Miguel and him would set up lights at night and buck bulls early into the morning,” she continued.
What does a Mom think as her son prepares to ride on the biggest stage of his life?
“During the event, I just thought about how hard he worked to get to this moment. Our long drives, his dedication and desire to do what he wanted to do, the faith that carries him over and over to the next show. I just saw this young boy who always said that he has to try harder to make it and he will, I am so nervous every time he rides and I just pray for his safety.”
For more information please contact Leigh Ann Schroeder, firstname.lastname@example.org; 940.902.1112. @leighaschroeder.