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Bull riding champ returns home

Ted Nuce part of Ropin’ on the River rodeo festivities

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Bull riding champ returns home

Ted Nuce today.

Photo contributed/

POSTED June 3, 2011 1:25 a.m.

Ted Nuce can’t stay away from bulls.

The 1985 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s world champion bull rider and 1979 Manteca High graduate isn’t riding the equivalent of 1,800-pounds of rip snorting unstable dynamite these days for a living.

Instead he’s trying to ride another type of bull as a stock trader.

“When I’m teaching bull riding the first lesson is learning how to get off the bull safely,” Nuce said from his home in Stephenville, Texas. “Same thing with stocks. You’ve got to know when to get out of the stock market safely with your money.”

Even though the Nuce is making a living these days chasing Wall Street bulls and dabbling in real estate don’t mistake the easy-going 50-year-old for a drug store cowboy. He’s been the real McCoy since she age 14 when he straddled his first bull in Oakdale.

Nuce will be on hand for the Ropin’ on the River rodeo Saturday and Sunday at Dell’Osso Farms in Lathrop. The two-day California Cowboy Pro Rodeo Association competition is a benefit for the free tutoring services of Give Every Child a Chance.

Nuce, one of the 15 founding members of the Professional Bull Riders that put up $1,000 apiece for the now-high profile organization, knew he was hooked on the sport when he completed his first full 8-second ride on a steer at a junior rodeo in Ceres where he finished fourth.

He turned pro in 1982 after graduating from Manteca High noting that many of his teachers probably thought he was crazy.

“It’s like you’re facing death,” Nuce said of bull riding. “Anything can happen when they open that chute and you’re on top of an out-of-control bull.”

And whatever happens, Nuce knows one thing - it is what rodeo fans pay to see.

“Once you’ve heard the crowd leap to its feet yelling you‘re hooked,” Nuce said. “You want to get that feeling again.”

The best advice he can give young cowboys who want to make their living riding bulls is to practice to the point you overcome your fears so that everything becomes second nature.

And there is a lot of fear to overcome given untamed bulls ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, can buck, kick, rear up, spin, and twist to create the feeling you‘re riding a tornado through a 8.0 Richter scale earthquake. And you can’t simply hold for eight seconds. You’ve got to impress the judges who are looking for constant control and rhythm of the rider matching movements with the bull. To one up the competition - they often need to rely on extra “style” points often earned by spurring or essentially making the bull even angrier. And it has got to be done without touching the bull, the rope or yourself with your free arm.

Nuce was the champion bull rider of the California PRCA circuit for eight years. In the 14 years he rode bulls, he finished in the Top 10 in worldwide rankings 12 times and second three times.

It was back when the prize money was minuscule compared to today’s big paydays. His earnings for his championship year in 1985 was $107,872.

Nuce said it’s been an ideal ride since he was able to make a living at doing something that didn’t feel like he was working.

“You can succeed with passion and heart,” the 5-foot-6 Nuce added.

Nuce was inducted into the professional Bull Riders Ring of Honor in 1996. He has also been inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

Nuce said he appreciates the opportunity to be a part of the return of rodeo to the Manteca-Lathrop area.

“It (Give Every Child a Chance) is a worthy organization that people should support,” Nuce added.

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