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42-year-old bull rider brings decades of skill into arena

FORT WORTH -- It doesn't matter whether you're 18 or 42 years old, Myron Duarte will tell you, his job is dangerous.

On Wednesday, the most senior bull rider competing in the World's Original Indoor Rodeo was catapulted by an 1,800-pound feisty beast known as Smackdown.

Duarte, flung from the bull before the 8-second horn sounded, sprang up uninjured.

This time.

That hasn't always been the case for Duarte, who quickly downplays the many broken bones, dislocated joints and torn ligaments he has suffered.

"If you bring that kind of thinking to the arena, you might as well not show up," he said.

The younger bull riders, many of whom were not even born when Duarte started riding, jokingly throw around guesses at his age.

In the dressing room, where riders stretch and prepare their equipment before rides, one cowboy shouted: "Isn't [Myron] like 96 or something? I think he's got a walker back here somewhere."

But with jokes comes true respect for a man who has endured surgeries on knees and shoulders and countless brushes with potentially lethal bulls.

"You don't ride bulls at 42 and not be great at it," said fellow competitor Ted Bert, 27, of Modesto, Calif.

Duarte has ridden bulls in the Fort Worth rodeo 18 times, he says. He started riding bulls when he was 14.

Duarte ranks 250th all-time in prize money, according to a list kept by Professional Bull Riders Inc. But he makes his living mostly through endorsements and sponsorships, he said.

A 10-time national finalist as a bull rider, Duarte can boast that he survived a 1993 ride on the infamous Bodacious, known as the world's most dangerous bull.

"I got on, and got off," he said. "And I didn't get hurt. That bull was notorious for injuring riders."

At 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, Duarte's frame is similar to that of a junior welterweight fighter, the weight class of boxers Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya and Pernell Whitaker.

To keep in shape, he watches what he eats and rides a stationary bike for exercise.

"I don't lift weights, because I don't want to bulk up," Duarte said.

Whatever his secret is, Duarte seems to bounce back injury after injury.

"I guess I have a couple of really good surgeons," he said. "They just put me back together. It's like starting all over again."

ANTHONY SPANGLER, 817-390-7420

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