Meet World Champ Clayton Foltyn

 At the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and State Highway 71 sits a quiet little town that was once nothing more than a railroad switching point on New York, Texas and Mexican railways.  To most the town was known simply as Prairie Switch, but the old cowboys saw a beauty in the land that many could not.  They called it the “ Pearl of the Prairies” – a true rancher’s paradise.  Nestled in the heart of cattle country, the camp was also frequented by cowboys from Mexico who, in 1890, changed the name to El Campo.  Over the many decades, ranching has given way to industry, incorporation and technology, but if you look closely, you can still find a few cowboys working the Pearl.  Bull rider, and 2011 CBR Cinch Tour world champion, Clayton Foltyn, is one of those men.

From the very beginning, Clayton had big boots to fill.  His father and both of his grandfathers were professional bull riders at one time.  And so, for Clayton, who grew up helping his grandpa run cows and raise bucking bulls, a career atop a two ton animal did not seem so very unusual. 

“My Dad taught me how to ride bulls,” Foltyn said in a 2011 interview, “and I rode in my first youth rodeo when I was seven.  That was the beginning.”

At the age of 18, Foltyn began his professional bull riding career, traveling around the country to participate in numerous events.  He has competed in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo every year since 2005, with the exception of 2008, and says he truly enjoys competing close to home surrounded by friends and family.  Another undeniable perk of performing in Houston, according to Clayton: sleeping in your own bed!

As a young bull rider, Foltyn had his share of injuries, many of which required surgery and an extended recovery, but he always returned to the arena.

“I’ve had surgery on my shoulder and my hand,” he says without flinching, “and some muscle injuries that kept me out for a while.” 

Although Clayton’s riding career has been consistent, the 26 year-old has seen his share of ups and downs, especially over the last year.  So, how did he manage to regain his form and earn a world championship in 2011? According to Clayton, his mind has always been focused, but a physical training regimen was the secret ingredient that helped push him over the top.

“When I wasn’t traveling, I started going to the gym about five times a week,” he said.  “I lost 13 pounds and really leaned up.”

Whatever the reason, no one can deny that Clayton Foltyn is a force to be reckoned with in the bull riding world.  In addition to the CBR Cinch world championship, Folyton received a $100,000 bonus check and the coveted Hy O Silver championship buckle for his spectacular efforts. 

Clayton knows that he will not always be able to rely on bull riding as his source of income and so as part of his CBR Tour winnings Clayton accepted stock in Championship Bull Riding and now has a vested interest in the company thus adding businessman to the list of his recent accomplishments.  Combined with his 2011 total earnings he is planning a future which includes purchasing a home for him and his soon to be bride Kala.

Foltyn’s renewed commitment, tireless work ethic, and more mature approach have not gone unnoticed in the industry.  According to CBR President and former world champion Tuff Hedeman,   

“Clayton has always had the ability to be a great bull rider. This past year he got his priorities straight and his riding ability kicked into a whole new gear. He worked hard and deserves what he has earned .”

For Clayton Foltyn, winning the CBR Cinch world championship was just the first step toward turning his dreams into reality.  In December 2011, he is scheduled to compete against the top 15 PRCA bull riders in the world at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.  He says he is “more relaxed and ready to win,” but admits that he still gets a little nervous at times.

“The most important thing is makin’ great rides,” he says with a smile.  “You just have to try your guts out every single time.”