Type 1 diabetes has nothing on this young bullfighter out of Payson

There is a local bullfighter who is proof that chasing dreams can pay off even when the odds are stacked against you. 

Westlee Jones of Payson began watching his dad, Gary Jones in the early 1990’s in NFR Wrangler bullfights. Westlee wanted to be just like his dad, but at the age of six, something happened that very well could have shattered his dreams: He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.    

Thankfully, his parents had always told him that he could do and be anything he wanted to be. 

During highschool, Westlee played baseball for Salem Hills High School and later earned a scholarship to Kentucky Christian University in Grayson Kentucky. After two years Westlee called his parents and told them he was coming home and hanging up his baseball cleats and switching them up for his bullfighting cleats. His dad was excited and his mom was less than thrilled with his decision.

After all, bullfighting is hands down, a much more dangerous endeavor than baseball.

But she should have seen it coming because not only had Westlee grown up watching his dad in rodeos, but his family was very involved in bullfighting, having created the Freestyle for Hope 501c and holding a freestyle bullfighting event for many years. When he was 15 years old, his Dad had the stock contractor bring him an exhibition bull to step in front of, and he caught the bug and he knew then he wanted to follow in his Dads footsteps and attempt to be a professional bullfighter.

In March of 2022, Westlee entered his first Freestyle bullfighting competition. He won his first round and ended up second place at his first event. Westlee went on to win his next three events with the Ultimate Bullfighters tour. He attended several more events during the year and qualified for the World Championship in Fort Worth Texas in December. 

While Westlee said that he didn’t get the results he wanted at the championship, it lit a fire in him that he had never had before. 

After the finals Westlee came home and hit the gym and his workouts hard. He has also spent countless hours watching videos with his dad and working hard to reach his goals.

Earlier in January, Westlee got an invitation to participate in a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event in Duluth Georgia. 

“I was a little nervous being out there in front of a crowd that big, but it was a lot of fun and I am learning from every bullfight,” Westlee said.

Westlee has been asked many times if he is afraid of the bulls and his answer is always, “I fight type 1 diabetes everyday; these bulls are nothing compared to that.”

Submitted by Cyndi Jones

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