Growing up in a remote village in Brazil in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, Robson Palermo taught himself how to ride bulls by watching videotapes of fellow countryman and three-time Professional Bull Riders world champion Adriano Moraes.
"Living in a jungle in Brazil, all the time I watched TV. My mom put videos in and I’d look at Adriano Moraes ride," said Palermo, the reigning PBR World Finals champion. "I’d sit on the couch and tried to move the same way. I learned by myself, then I (rode) a small bull, calf and cows, big bulls, a horse and mules.
"My dad, he pushed me all the time, and my mom, too."
Palermo successfully rode seven of his eight bulls in last year’s World Finals in Las Vegas en route to the title, and he scored 92.25 points Sunday on Black Pearl to win the third round of this year’s Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Palermo, 26, is one of four riders to cover his bulls in each of the first three rounds of the Finals and is in second place in the event with 266.75 points.
"I love to come over here. I told my wife every time I come here I feel stronger every year," said Palermo, who has covered 10 of his past 11 bulls in the Finals. "Last year, I buck off one bull, and this year I try to stay on all my bulls."
J.B. Mauney leads the Finals with 269 points after scoring 88 Sunday on a re-ride on Black Smoke after his first bull, Crosswired, stumbled during his trip.
Palermo said he wanted to ride Crosswired but drafted Black Pearl — in second place in the race for the 2009 PBR Bull of the Year award — on the advice of Chad Berger, last year’s PBR Stock Contractor of the Year.
"Chad told me to pick this bull and I’d get a better score," he said. "I see this bull a couple times. He’s really strong, and it worked out; I got a good score.
"He’s a really rank bull and quick. I’m so excited I rode this bull."
PBR points leader Kody Lostroh and Valdiron de Oliveira are the only other riders to cover their first three bulls.
Lostroh, who scored 91 on Copp Hou to finish second Sunday, leads Mauney by 429.25 points in the season standings and is in fourth place in the Finals with 263.25 points.
He said he wanted to ride Black Pearl, who he joked is "a wuss, because he doesn’t have any horns."
"That bull really bucks hard, gets in the air and spins really fast," he said. "He does the same thing every time he bucks, and guys still have a hard time riding him."
Oliveira scored 88.75 points on Deja Blu to finish fifth Sunday, when 17 of 44 riders successfully rode their bulls. He’s in third place in the Finals with 265.25 points.
Guilherme Marchi, the defending PBR World Champion, was bucked off for the third straight round, by Twisted Aces, and is in third place in the season standings, 983 points behind Lostroh.
Thiago Paguioto placed third Sunday, scoring 89.75 points on Bushwacker, and Edimundo Gomes finished fourth, scoring 89.25 points on Moon.
The final four rounds will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center from Thursday through Sunday.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.