INTERVIEW WITH ROBSON PALERMO Aug. 22, 2016
BRM: How are your shoulders?
“My shoulders feel good; no complaint. Not have a problem no more. Sometimes my left shoulder feels a little sore because I have a bone graft and two screws in my shoulder…The shoulder is still loose, but somehow it still holds up pretty good.”
BRM: Did you rest over the summer?
“Well, I did. I went to a couple of events: Calgary, and a couple of Touring Pro events—I think about 6 events.”
BRM: That’s not so much rest.
He laughs. “Yeah.”
BRM: When did you first come to the States?
“I first came here in 2005 to watch the Final. Guilherme Marchi and Justin McBride were trying to become Champion. [McBride won the Finals.] I first rode here in 2006; I started riding on the Touring Pro, and to make money. Before I didn’t make much before I came to the tour. It wasn’t points like now. I started riding on the Touring Pro, and I started to make a little money here. I think it was four months I was on tour.”
BRM: Did Adriano Moraes help you get here?
“No; I met Adriano one time in Brazil. I talked to him a little bit, but I didn’t know him much. I knew him from the TV in Brazil and here. When I moved here, I didn’t talk to him much, because I lived in Gainsview, right close to Decatur, and Adriano lived in a different town. Also, he was going to the Built Ford Tough, and I was going to the Touring Pro. But Adriano helped a lot of people come over here. He helped me a lot, and he was a good friend. I came to his house, and we talked a lot.”
BRM: If you guys hadn’t come here, it would be boring.
He laughed again. about bull riding.
BRM: I’m glad Adriano is sending the Killer Bs up here.
He laughed. “Like Ty [Murray] said: Before they came one at a time, now they come ten at a time.”
BRM: Without you guys, it would be boring.
“I love to see those young guys come, not just Brazil, but Americans. This year these young guys ride really good. I think it makes more pressure for you to ride better, because you need to do well to beat those guys, and this I like; it’s making me keep going. I’m 33 years old now, and for a bull rider it’s a little old, not much, but my body is beat up so much: so many surgeries, bones broken. Jess Lockwood is 19 or 20 years old and I’m 33; it’s a big difference.” [Note: Lockwood is 18.]
BRM: Do you live in Tyler [Texas]?
“I had a ranch in Tyler, but a year and a half ago I bought this place in Bullard and I moved here. It’s a little small: 11 acres and a house, but the place I got in Tyler was a little bit bigger.
BRM: Do you raise bulls?
“I did before, but it’s too much trouble. [He’s laughing while he’s talking.] I not stay much at home when I go to all the main bullridings, and I think these bulls are smart. I think when I go they talk to each other and say, ‘When he goes, let’s go jump the fence.’ I’m bull riding and my wife calls [he adopts a high-pitched voice and imitates Priscila complaining], Look what your bull did. [I can just tell he’s rolling his eyes.] Oh my god.
I tried for three years; I bought some cows and I raised some bulls, but I never make nothing; I never sell nothing. I tried to make one to put on the PBR classic bulls, but I never sold. They’re hard to take care of.”
[Sage Steele Kimzey, CBR double World Champ & PRCA World Champ told me the same thing: bulls are too much trouble.]
BRM: Do you remember your first event in America?
“My first event in America I think was Charlotte, and it was not so good, because I have my shoulder first time dislocation. I went to Brazil, I did rehab for four days, and I got a phone call from the PBR, and they told me I’ll maybe make it to the top 45 this time; they said, Are you gonna come back and ride or wait a little bit more? I said, No, this time I was crazy to go on the Built Ford Tough top 45, and I just jump on a plane, and my shoulder was not so good. I rode one bull and I bucked off two. I have in my mind good things, because first time I come over and go to the event riding with those guys, the big names like Justin McBride, Ross Coleman, Chris Shivers, and all those guys. I was so happy to be in the middle of those guys.” [He doesn’t mention that he happened to be the Brazilian champion in 2005.]
BRM: Do you study the bulls?
“No, not before. I’m the guy that doesn’t care much about it, but the last couple of years I start to just a little bit take a look at those bulls, watch videos about those bulls, because those bulls get so smart, it’s not the same like three or four years ago. Those bulls feel you do everything; if you to one side, they go to the other side. If the bull is 100% going to the left, and you’re left-handed, he’s gonna turn back right. Those bulls are really, really smart. Before, they didn’t care; they just buck and jump and kick and spin, and not much change about it.”
BRM: Which way do you like a bull to go?
“You know, before I used to not care much, but now I prefer a bull come in my hand, to the left. I have a little bit of trouble with bulls away from my hand, turn back to the right. But when I feel good, and my body’s good, my mind’s good, then I don’t care which way he goes. But sometimes I want him to turn back left; it’s a lot easier for me.”
BRM: Are there different rules in Brazil about how much time you’re allowed to take in the chute?
“You know, before, they didn’t care much. Those Brazilian guys is lazy because in Brazil they didn’t care how much time you stay in the chute. If you do get really, really, really slow, then those guys get mad, but not like on the PBR; it’s a lot different. Another thing is over there they don’t have a TV show the time, not like over here where they have a TV show the time. I think that’s why it makes those Brazilian guys lazy over there.”
BRM: I think a guy should have all the time he needs to get set, but they hustle the Brazilian riders out of the chute, and disqualify them so many times, and they don’t do that to the Americans. The one time they disqualified Pistol Robinson, people got so upset.
“Oh yeah, I remember that. And I think it happened to Ross. People got upset. They do it to us, and we go to those meetings and tell them, This is not right, and they say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it because it’s going to be good for everybody.’ This is why guys get so mad, because every single week, every single day on the bullriding, they put Brazilians on the clock, and they even disqualify them in the chute. It happened to Valdiron last week. I was watching the TV, and saw Valdiron get fouled. The bull started to buck, and they started Valdiron on the clock, and Valdiron didn’t know, and the bull buck, buck, buck, and Valdiron get up. Valdiron get off the bull, and the judge say, You’re on the clock, you have four seconds. His rope fell on the ground. Some rules—I know you gotta go fast because of the time with TV and everything, but it’s the same every single weekend is the same problem. Every single weekend.” [He said more, but because he was outside in the wind, his voice got muffled.]
BRM: I think sometimes they disqualify Silvano even before he leaves the locker room. He chuckles.
“Yeah, I see that a couple of times with Silvano. Before he finishes his wrap, the clock starts. Now when you sit on the bull, they see nothing, and sometimes the judge puts you on the clock … I see this for Valdiron and Silvano. He is doing his second wrap, and they cut him off, and I say, What happened?”
BRM: Have the riders talked about this at their meetings with the PBR?
“Yeah; me and Guilherme talk a little more English, and we talked to the board, but you know, in the meetings everything is all well, they’re gonna help us, they’re gonna talk to the judges, and they’re going to change judges, they’re going to bring another judge and all that stuff. But they just say that, and when bullriding starts, everything comes back again.”
BRM: Renato was right; they do treat the riders like crap a lot of the time.
He laughs. “Renato tells the judge every single time. When he gets mad, he gets mad, and he says anything he wants to.”
BRM: Have you seen Renato?
“No, but I just see something on Instagram or Facebook that he rode bulls in Brazil for a benefit. He got on one bull to help a hospital there for the child who has some problem. Renato get on one bull to make money.”
BRM: Does Renato still have a ranch in Texas?
“No, he has a ranch in Buritama, in south Sao Paolo in a little town, and he lives on that. He’s got another ranch in the north of Brazil; this is a big ranch he bought, and he’s been going there, he has cattle on that ranch, but he lives on the little ranch.”
BRM: What would you think if your son wanted to be a bull rider?
He laughed. “You know, I don’t know. Like I say, my daddy he’s not a bull rider, he’s a cowboy. I learn to ride bulls by watching people on TV, and I thought to be bull rider. The first time bulIriding, I fell off, and I say, Mama, I want to be that. Bullrider. And I started to ride there in my house—chairs and all this stuff, and I say, Now I ride bulls. Now I got a son [Mateus], and he loves it; he rides sheep. I got one calf and I raised her on the bottle, and she’s gentle, and he’s been riding her. He loves all kinds of sports and now he’s 100% baseball, and he wants to be a baseball player, so he’s got all his stuff and plays here outside. Now the soccer season starts and he’s gonna play soccer. Gabby, she’s six; she’s going to turn 7 next week, and Mateus is five. My little one, Lucas, he’s 11 months old. I think he is gonna be the bad guy.”
BRM: What would you like to say to my blog readers?
“I just would like to say about Netflix Fearless, it shows a little bit more about us, the bullriding guys, where we come from, what we do, what we eat or not eat, travel together or not travel together, what we like or not like, the way we’re living here. I think it’s really helped us, because many people here don’t understand about us. They think we’re coming here, riding here, and going back to Brazil every single week. People don’t understand that we have a family here, we’re living here, kids born here, going to school here, and all this stuff. And everything what’s going on with the PBR, the rules and all this stuff. I think pretty much everybody told something he knows about…Every week here they watch bull riding and there’s some trouble. For us, it’s awesome living here, because the way the people treat us, the fans, is awesome because they treat us as professionals. In Brazil it’s not like that; like if you won something, nobody knew; nobody knew you the next day. But here, it’s awesome, because everywhere you go people know your career and ask for autographs and pictures and everything. So much more TV…and people take it a little more seriously, when they see us every week.”
BRM: Are there stand-alone bull riding events in Brazil, not just bull riding as part of a rodeo?
“Yeah, we have separate bull riding here; the PBR is here now. We’ve got some different associations here too, like the CBR, PRCA, IPRA [International Professional Rodeo Association]—we got all kinds of stuff like that in Brazil.” [He means organizations similar to the U.S. ones, not that the U.S. ones are there, except for the PBR.]
BRM: What did you think about Fearless?
“I did watch it; my wife watched it, but I watched it when I was in Nashville last week. I started watching about 12:30, and I stopped watching about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, and I was so tired. I didn’t read what people said about it, but my wife said, Yeah, it’s pretty good.”
BRM: In the series, his mother and someone else were pronouncing Guilherme’s name “Mar-kee.” Why?
“It’s Mar-chee. I think when he first started riding here, it was a little bit difficult for the announcers, so they started to say ‘Mar-kee.’” Laughs.
BRM: “It’s an Italian name.”
“Well, actually Guilherme is some Italian. My family is some Italian, too, because Palermo is from Sicily, and my daddy he’s an Italy guy. My mama, she’s Brazilian Indian. My grandpa came over from Italy a long time ago; people came from Italy to the U.S., Brazil, everywhere. My daddy is halfway Brazilian and halfway Italian. When I came here to the U.S., there were two families named Palermo, and one guy wanted to do the family tree. He wanted to know where my grandfather came from and if this guy was part of the family, too. I said, I don’t know about that.”
BRM: Do you speak any Italian?
“Actually, I talk a little bit. If I talk to somebody else from Italy, I can talk. It takes me a couple of seconds. If I spend 10, 20 minutes, and I start to speak a little, because it’s more easy. My grandfather, yes, but my daddy, not; he’s trying a little bit, but he’s full Portuguese. My mama’s daddy, my grandpa, is full Indian, and he spoke a different language, like a different Portuguese. He’s not Portuguese. I’m a half Brazilian, half Italian, and half Indian.”
BRM: Have you been to Italy?
“No, I want to go there. I want to go to Palermo one year.”
BRM: I hope you have another good season and win another Finals event.
“I look forward to that. My mind is good, my body feels good—not 100%, but still good. I just have a little problem in my knee this week. A few weeks ago I was in Amarillo, and I got bucked off, and I aggravated my right knee that I hurt before—my MCL. And then in Nashville, I thought I feel really good, and on the bull, he got out and jumped and I squeezed with my leg, and I felt my knee, and I said, Oops, I’m gonna stop right here.”
BRM: Listen to the doctor!
He laughed. “Yeah, I usually not listen to the doctor. Dr. Tandy come to me and he say, Oh, no. But now I’m smart, I listen to everything he say.”
BRM: You’re a stubborn Scorpio, right?
This time he giggled. “Yeah, Scorpio, that’s right.”
BRM: Me, too.
BRM: What are some of the bulls you think are the best right now?
“Air Time to me is the best right now. He’s really smart; he’s got a lot of power and he kicks hard.” [He mentioned several other bulls, but the wind blew his voice away.] Red Moon can really jump and kick. He’s a really good bull for a big ride. There’s lots of great bulls out there; I forgot their names. Some bulls come from Canada, and they turned out really good, too.”
BRM: I think the PBR changed the format for the Nashville event because the bulls were so good that they were afraid nobody would ride.
He laughed. “Exactly. Exactly. If you bring just the best there, and maybe none of them are going to ride those bulls.”
BRM: I saw a Touring Pro event in Worcester where nobody rode.
“The whole event? Then they have to decide on peoples’ time or something like that?”
BRM: Yep. I thought they should give the money to the bulls.
“Exactly. They should do that. Yeah. They should do, because if nobody rides, they should give it to the bulls, and next time those guys will ride.”
BRM: I should let you go. I’m going to put this up on the blog, so keep your eyes open for BullRidingMarketing.wordpress.com. I’ll tell the people who arranged the interview to remind you.
He laughs again. “Okay.”
BRM: Thank you for your time.
“You’re welcome. And if you want to have some time, just call me.”
BRM: Have a good weekend.
“All right; take care.”
BRM: Take care.
Note: I don’t know if they still have some left, but you can order tee shirts and hoodies with the Palermo family motto on it: “Dream. Work Hard. Succeed.” http://www.athleteoriginals.com/index.php/shop-by-athlete/robson-palermo.html?cat=111
Robson Palermo rides New Frontier Rodeo’s Spitball for 84.75 during the second round of the Kansas City Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media. Photo credit must be given on all use.
Robson Palermo. OKC studio shoot. Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson