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Dirteater: Not an ordinary name for a bull rider

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Ryan Dirteater doffs his hat to the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd after winning last weekend’s Professional Bull Riding event.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A name like Dirteater doesn’t sound like a successful rodeo cowboy. The opposite is true in the case of Ryan Dirteater, a bull rider from Hulbert, Oklahoma, a small town of 590, just 11 miles west of Tahlequah.

The 28-year- old Dirteater, a Cherokee, won last weekend’s PBR: Unleash The Beast Express Employment Professionals Invitational at Chesapeake Arena. His victory ride came aboard World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser, an Oklahoma bull owned by D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co. near Ardmore.

Dirteater began riding 2,000-pound bulls when he was 19, and last weekend’s victory was his 15th career win and the first in his home state.

“I am just maturing, and I love these home state events,” Dirteater said. “The crowd is outstanding. I love riding here. All of these events, the crowd, and energy is outstanding, but there is something special about these events.”

Dirteater is the son of a full-blooded Cherokee (father Randy), and his grandparents spoke fluent Cherokee. Ryan is known as the “Cherokee Kid,” and he said when most people hear his last name, “they think it’s fake.”

“It’s ironic that I’m a bull rider,” he explained to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “You don’t want to eat dirt. But it is my real last name. I grew up with it.”

And, when he was a boy, he said he was often teased about it.

“I’ve heard it since I was a kid growing up, especially in high school,” said Dirteater. “Some of them made fun of my name back then, and now most of them want my autograph.”

Ryan’s sisters tried to discover the name’s origin but came up with no successful results.

“Probably my great-great- great grandfather ate dirt. I don’t know,” he told the Review-Journal.

“Probably way back then, maybe he got bucked, and he just picked up a handful of dirt and threw it in his mouth, and they named him Dirteater. I don’t know.

“I’m not embarrassed about it. I like it. They’ll always remember my name. It’s known all over the world now,” he said. “Ten years down the road, they’re going to remember Dirteater. I’d like to see Dirteater a world champion one of these days. That’s been my goal since I started this sport.”

Currently ranked fourth in the standings, he could earn a world championship this year. His best year was a fourth-place finish two years ago. Ryan has made nearly $1.5 million since he began bull riding in 2007.

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Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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