MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- What chance do a bunch of cowboys have against a group of mixed martial arts fighters and body builders?
Maybe about as much as national body-building competitor Sean Barber, who owns the Olympus Athletic Club, has against a 2,000-pound bull.
But regardless of who proves to be the toughest, the real winners will be a Murfreesboro basketball program that focuses on developing life skills in the region’s teenagers.
“This weekend, some of the country’s best bull riders are coming to Murfreesboro for a major championship event, and while they’re here, we’ve challenged each other to some friendly ‘tough guy’ competition to help out a group of local kids,” Barber said.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, a group of the cowboy competitors from the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association will meet at 4 p.m. inside the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, not for a brawl, but for a tug of war – cowboys versus fighters and body builders.
On Friday, Jan. 24, at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, they’ll be getting together again for the Extreme Bull Riding National Championships, where Barber, who competes in national body building championships, is going to get on the back of a bull and test his mettle against the cowboys at their own sport.
But there’s a catch, his gyms have to raise $1,000 for the Above the Rim Gym program before he’ll get on the back of that bull.
“I’m confident gym members and the public dropping by are going to help us exceed this goal and help these kids out,” Barber said.
Above the Rim Gym is a basketball program that has operated in schools and locations across Murfreesboro for seven years.
The program focuses on teaching youth the skills of basketball but also with an emphasis on building character and teaching them everything from anger management to life skills to help them prepare for the future.
The nonprofit organization accepts youths between the ages of 7 and 17 from across the region.
“We’re really excited to be a part of this,” said George G. Gibson, one of the coaches with Above the Rim Gym. “These kids learn so much from the program, and an event like this is going to help us reach new kids and raise some support for the program.”
Friday night at the bull riding is known as Kids Night.
This is the fourth year the championships have taken place in Murfreesboro and discounted ticket sales are offered to kids between the ages of 6 and 10 years old for just $5 Friday night, while children younger than 5 years old are admitted for free.
A portion of each ticket sold Friday night is going back to Above the Rim Gym with a minimum $600 donation.
“This is professional-level bull riding with some of the country’s best competitors in one of the nation’s largest finals,” said Chan Canter, president of the southern Extreme Bull Riding Association. “We have made Murfreesboro our home for this event and we want to give back. Many of our competitors start out as teenagers, and so we focus on giving proceeds from the event to youth-related programs.”
Donations for Above the Rim Gym to get Barber on a bull can be made at any Olympus Athletic Club location in Murfreesboro, Spring Hill or Shelbyville.
The bull riding competition takes place through Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, located at 304 W. Thompson Lane.