Championship Bull Riding Invites Fans to Vote for the 2015 Evan Williams Bourbon Bullfighter of the Year

There is no luck in bull riding. There is significant preparation and meticulous training that drives the three men who step on to the dirt for cowboy protection on the Championship Bull Riding Mahindra Road to Cheyenne.

Every cowboy who enters the arena on the CBR tour owes his safety and well-being to three very tough, brave, and smart men who are known as the Evan Williams Bourbon Bullfighters. These men are not clowns they are safety men on site to protect the life of the bull rider before, during, and after the eight second ride.

Each year the fans vote for the bullfighter they think has displayed extraordinary effort in the line of duty.

Voting begins today for your favorite Bullfighter on and will continue until midnight on July 6, 2015. The winner will be announced on July 20, 2015 from the CBR World Finals Awards Ceremony at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The nominees are as follows in alphabetical order.  


Matt Baldwin  

Height: 6’1” Weight: 187

Hometown: Sylvania, AL 

Matt Baldwin is known as fearless. Wearing no protective gear or padding, he is known for his “focus” while at work and views the bucking bulls in the arena as his co-workers. “Not wanting to be distracted for even millisecond, Matt is continually analyzing what he does and how he can improve,” said CBR photographer Todd Brewer who captures all the bullfighter’s moves thru the camera lens.

Baldwin, one of the original CBR bullfighters from 2001, is known for efficiency, taking no extra steps to put himself in the right position. He views cowboy protection as a science, the less steps you take can put you in the best place to protect the cowboy. “Brushes with death” are something he counts on a weekly basis, with a smile. He has a taste for the extreme and is known for his slow southern drawl, boyish smile and easy personality.  He has been facing off against bulls for nearly 22 years and is one of the most respected and highly regarded bullfighters on the professional circuits.  Baldwin stays in shape at home with bucking chutes and his own set of bucking and fighting bulls. He is the owner of P.L.S. Construction and lives in Sylvania, Alabama with his wife Kristy and two sons.


Craig Check

Height: 5’8’ Weight: 165

Hometown: Tomah, Wisconsin

“Solid, dependable and always calm, cool, and collected,” is how the men he protects describe Craig Check. Check is known for always being in the right place at the right time, not flashy but a solid bullfighter. He knows bulls as well as anyone on either side of the bucking chutes. His experience raising and training bulls allows him to preposition himself and know where the action might happen.

After a brief career riding bulls, Craig Check jumped into the arena to help his brother Cory during a practice session. Seventeen years later, he joined the CBR Mahindra Road to Cheyenne bullfighter crew for the second consecutive year.  Craig got his start by attending the bullfighting school of Mike Matt, former 3 time Wrangler World Champion Bullfighter from Billings Montana. Check, has been with the CBR for three years and is the reigning CBR Bullfighter of the Year.  His resume includes fighting buckers at the National Federation of Professional Bull Riders; PRCA Dodge Great Lakes Circuit Finals; Bull Riders of American and the Dodge World Toughest Rodeo competition. When he is not fighting bulls he is a foreman for the Kraemer Company where he claims his job keeps him in fighting shape. Roping and training horses are his hobbies as well as keeping up with two horse loving daughters, Cheyenne and Caylee, with his wife Beth.


Brandon Loden

Height: 6’5” Weight: 175

Hometown:  Weatherford, Texas

No one wants to hang up next to a 1,500 pound bucking beast, but if you do, Brandon Loden is who you want to be in the arena with you. He is known in the industry as being fearless during hang ups and his “hell on wheels” style will save your life.

“When you see a guy that you are competing against beat you, don’t be jealous, be happy for them but make yourself want to be where they are”, said Loden recently at a camp for rising young stars.

Loden’s career began as a bull rider getting on bulls at 6 time Stock Contractor of the Year, Terry William’s ranch. Short a bullfighter, Williams threw him out in the arena one day to fight bulls. By the end of the day, Williams had spotted some real guts and talent in the young man originally from East Texas.

“I knew that day he was gonna be good. He had the “IT” it takes to be a good bull fighter, and I told Tuff (Hedeman)  that they needed to give him a go on the CBR Tour,“ says Williams.

In the seven years he has been on the CBR Tour, Loden never worries about his own well-being. He is fearless and has multiple injuries to prove it.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else in the world. This is it, it is what I love to do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It doesn’t matter if I’m in pain, I want to be there to help these guys out. A lot of them are my friends, and no matter what I want to always have their back,“ stated Loden. “It’s not a one man show out there in the arena you have to have a good team.” Loden has other big responsibilities, married to Jill Franzen Loden, he is the father of 3, he says being a father is the most important work he does and keeps him the busiest.


Evan Williams Bourbon and Championship Bull Riding (CBR) have enjoyed a partnership for several years. Evan Williams Bourbon is prominently featured as the sole sponsor of the bullfighters, the costumed personnel who protect the bull riders, outfitted in Evan Williams Bourbon logoed uniforms the bullfighters are in the ring for every ride. “We too appreciate the hard work and athleticism that it takes to compete in this sport. That’s why Evan Williams is in the center of the action as the Official Bourbon of the Championship Bull Riding tour.”

If you have experienced a bull riding event, then you saw the guts, grit and fierce determination of the Evan Williams Bourbon bullfighters. The bullfighters can be seen in action on television all summer long at 6 pm every Sunday on Fox Sports Network (FSN).

Evan Williams is the flagship bourbon brand of Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the nation’s largest independently owned and operated distilled spirits producer and the world’s second largest holder of aging bourbon.