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Bullfighter makes return at Old Fort Days Rodeo after suffering injury

Cody Emerson, a professional bullfighter, debuted his return at the Old Fort Days Rodeo after suffering a fracture to his foot in January.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Bullfighter Cody Emerson says rodeo is in his blood, but the Jonesboro native hasn’t been in the arena doing what he loves since January. 

While bullfighting at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, Emerson suffered a Lisfranc Fracture. He says he knew something was wrong right away and as he made his way to the fence, he felt the arch in his foot fall to the bottom of his shoe. However, his job came first. 

“I had to have surgery and stuff so it’s pretty dangerous, but as a bullfighter, your job is to be the first target, not the bull rider,” said Emerson. “You have to put yourself in front of the bull. That’s your job.” 

The Memorial Day kickoff for the Old Fort Days Rodeo was Emerson’s first night back in the arena. 

“It was twelve weeks non-weight bearing on my foot. I’ve been in physical therapy for four weeks and made it back here for the rodeo last night,” said Emerson. “First one and it felt just like it always has – the adrenaline rush and loved every minute of it.” 

Following the injury, Emerson had to miss nearly a dozen rodeos. However, as he continued to progress in his recovery, Old Fort Days were circled on his calendar to make his return. 

“When they said I was good to start physical therapy, I was like, ‘oh I’m busting it where I can be back in Fort Smith,’” Emerson said. “It’s pretty much like my home-state rodeo because Jonesboro doesn’t have one or anything. This is the only pro rodeo I do in Arkansas, so it’s pretty special.” 

On his first night back, Emerson says the rush from the crowd helped him get back in the arena and push aside any lingering soreness – getting back to what he loves and helping keep his friends and fellow riders safe. 

“Once that gets going, you got like chills going down your back, you’re not thinking about your sore foot or anything like that. Man, it was totally awesome,” said Emerson. 

I asked Emerson if he’s worried about the injury giving him issues in the future to keep him out of the arena, but with a smile, he said, “There’s never ‘no, I’m not going to do it ever again'. Once you do it, there’s like a love in your heart for it and respect for the bulls and it’s kinda hard to go without.” 

Old Fort Days Rodeo will continue through Saturday, June 4. Wednesday, June 1, is 5NEWS family night and tickets are just $7. 

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