Ezekiel Mitchell is quickly making a name for himself as a professional bull rider. Born in Rockdale, Texas, the 22-year-old is one of the top-ranked riders in the country and competes regularly at events across America. Unlike many of his peers, Mitchell didn’t grow up in a family steeped in rodeo tradition. Instead, he learned to ride bulls by watching Youtube and eventually built his own bucking barrel to practice in his back yard.

Video: A Day With Ezekiel Mitchell

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Now, Mitchell spends much of his time on the road competing at PBR events. His days build toward a single moment in the evening, a chance to pit himself against a 1,500-pound bull. As such, his schedule on tour is relatively relaxed: a few interviews, time to rest and an unchanging pre-ride routine. To learn about this up-and-coming athlete’s regimen and the gear he uses to ride, we caught up with him on January 3 in New York City.

Starting the season at Madison Square Garden, Mitchell demonstrated the inimitable determination needed to compete at a national level and deal with the volatile nature of the sport.

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