Rodeo ain’t for the weak. Just ask Kane Livingston. The 21-year-old from Saginaw, Texas has had his fair share of injuries from bullfighting, and he’s got the hardware inside his body to prove it. Unfortunately, he did more damage to his body two weeks ago when Ultimate Bullfighters (UBF) brought him to the Party in the Pines event in Swainsboro May 7-8. A scary situation on opening night turned into serious injury, and the Swainsboro and rodeo communities alike have come together since then to support him and his family.
Livingston rode his first sheep at 3-years-old, then he rode bulls until he was 15, at which point he started fighting bulls. He’s been a bullfighter for six years now, three professionally. He comes from a rodeo family through and through; his dad was a bullfighter, and his brother currently rides in the PBR.
“I’ve been around rodeo, bull riding, and bullfighting my whole life,” he said. “I have a plate and four screws in my shoulder and a plate and six screws in my hip. Now, I’ve got a rod and some pins in my tibula and fibula from my latest accident.”
Looking back on Livingston’s trip to Swainsboro and how it ended, someone who doesn’t love rodeo might have regrets. However, he doesn’t—because he loves the sport and depends on it as his livelihood. Party in the Pines, the ultimate showdown that would pit 18 of the top athletes in the world against the fiercest Spanish fighting bulls on the planet for a huge purse to the winner, was supposed to be just another day in the crazy life of a bullfighter like Livingston.
“I actually had another rodeo planned the weekend we came to Swainsboro, but Chad called me that Tuesday and said, ‘$15,000 added in Swainsboro, Georgia. Do you want to go?’ I couldn’t pass that up, so we left Thursday morning and made the 14-hour drive over. We left at around 5 a.m. and made it to town about 10:00 that night. We slept in and went to the bullfights the next morning.”
Right away, Livingston drew what he called a “really nice bull” from Chad Ellison Fighting Bulls. The match-up between man-versus-beast started out looking like Livingston would get a lot of points. That wouldn’t be in the cards, though. Instead, the bull got Livingston down and broke his leg, specifically both his tibula and fibula. He also fractured Livingston’s knee.
“When he ran me over, I tried to stand up. My leg just folded in half, so I started crawling away. I could feel my leg fishtailing behind me, so pretty quick, they loaded me in the ambulance and shipped me out.”
Once at the local hospital, staff took x-rays and reset his leg to prep it for surgery. All the while, unbeknownst to Livingston, his fiancé, Maddie Turnage, and their two baby girls, Stella Rose and Saydi Kate, the crowd at Georgia Sports Arena was doing what we here in Swainsboro and the rodeo community do best: raising money and praying for him. When he woke from surgery, he was told organizers passed a hat around, asking fans to help donate to his family since he was their only source of income. The end result was almost $2,000.
Prior to bullfighting, Livingston worked in construction. He had no insurance, so the mounting medical bills would be entirely on the family. He is currently looking for side jobs that won’t require him to be on his leg, and Turnage is looking for work to help provide for her family as well.
“I was so thankful because I was already worried about what we were going to do,” Livingston said humbly. “Then Mrs. Stephanie Miller, one of the organizers, a woman we had never met before, got our Zelle and PayPal information for donations. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the help, prayers, and donations we received from the Swainsboro and bullfighting communities.”
Livingston is now home with his girls, getting started on the road to recovery. While he is sincerely grateful to see another day, he realizes there are some who won’t understand the risk he takes as a professional bullfighter. To him, it’s impossible to put into words because it’s a way of life. Still, he tried to explain.
“I know there’s a chance to get hurt every time I step in the arena, but in this game, it’s 90 percent mental. You fight your mind more than you fight your bulls. But that’s what this game is about. These new guys say they ‘love it’ so much, but you don’t really know until you get a few of these big injuries and God puts your faith to the test. This isn’t a sport for the weak-hearted. If you want to be in the category with legends like Rex Dunn, Greg Rumor, Rob Smetts, and all them guys, you’ve got to earn your stripes. They’ve got to see you knocked down and stand back up. I love this sport like it’s my only way through life.”
Should anyone in the community feel led to donate to Livingston, you can do so through Venmo (@Kane-Livingston) or PayPal (@madisondore1).