Michael Allison treats each bull-riding competition like a boxing match.
Each time he climbs on the hulking beast, he prepares himself for a fight.
"Every time you step in the ring, it's a fight," Allison said. "Both mentally and physically it's a game."
Allison is focused on rising to the top of the game and has found success at every level of bull-riding he's entered.
The 21-year-old Marana resident participated in Saturday's bull-riding competition at the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, although he was unable to advance after he was bucked off the animal before the 8-second time limit.
However, he has won Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events in Palm Springs, Calif., Oakdale, Calif., and Sisters, Ore., and is currently the top-ranked bull rider in the Turquoise ProRodeo Circuit, which comprises New Mexico and Arizona, said his father, Michael Allison Sr.
Allison turned pro after winning numerous junior rodeo and state competitions while advancing to the high school national finals all four years during his years at Marana High School.
"It's like the Olympics. You start off young and grow into it," he said.
After Saturday's competition, Allison analyzed his performance the way a boxer recounts a match.
"The bull got into the corner and I got jammed up," he said.
He vowed to learn from his mistake and use it to help him improve as a rider.
Allison said follows a strict training regimen that includes running eight miles each day, practicing on bucking machines and other training equipment and lifting weights at the gym.
"I don't drink and I stay away from drugs," he said. "I'm an athlete, not a partier."
He was raised on a Marana ranch with three sisters who competed in junior rodeos, including one who was a part of the University of Arizona's rodeo club, his father said.
Before he was 8 years old, Allison was riding horses, sheep and steers.
He said he took on bulls when he turned 8.
Allison's ultimate goal is to become one of the top riders in the world.
"My goal is to be a world champion, to sit upon the top of the world with the legends," he added.
IF YOU GO
• When: Today
• Where: Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave.
• Tickets and information: www.tucsonrodeo.com, 741-2233
Tucson Rodeo - Final performance
• 11 a.m.: Gates open
• 12:30 p.m.: Dodge Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo
• 2-4:30 p.m. ProRodeo competition.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4115.