What Josh Boka Can Teach Us About Steer Wrestling
Some know him as Joshua, many know him as Josh, and still others know him as Chewy, or even just Boka. Josh Boka, 32, is a steer wrestling cowboy from Dillon, Montana.
As a child, Josh attend the Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo to watch his favorite cowboys steer wrestle. He had dreams to someday make it to the Montana Circuit Finals to compete himself. When he was in 8th grade, he asked his parents to attend the Montana Champion Steer Wrestling School. “I attended, and they worked us so hard,” Josh says. “I was exhausted but it was a great experience. When my parents picked me up, we went to eat and I was so tired I fell asleep in my plate at the table. It was then I learned quickly that there is no room in rodeo for a weak heart.”
Over the years, Josh worked hard to perfect his craft in steer wrestling. He surrounded himself with some of the best in the business to learn good steer wrestling techniques from cowboys like Jace Hunny, Todd Garrison, Kyle Whitaker, Ty Erikson and Blake Knowles. “Endless amounts of guys have helped me along the way. These guys are the best at what they do! I learned a lot from them.”
Josh’s pro tips on steer wrestling: “Jace Hunny once told me, ‘It’s four steps. Score, ride, catch and finish. The more simple you can make it the better.’ Your ultimate goal is to get the best time! To do so, you must have excellent horsemanship skills, a fast horse that has been trained well in all circumstances, a good strategy to make a catch of the steer and, once you get a good catch, then you can complete your run by getting the steer flat to the ground.”
Sounds easy, right? Well, these cowboys might beg to differ! Josh said, horsepower (pun intended!) plays a huge role – the faster you catch up to the steer, the quicker you can catch it. You also don’t have much time to think in the moment, so steer wrestlers tend to rely on muscle memory. You have to train yourself well. In efforts to stay in shape, some guys run or go to the gym regularly. Josh enjoys playing racquetball. “You’ve got to not only be in good shape, but keep that mental confidence as well,” he says.
Josh on his experience in Kissimmee last April: “It was a dream come true for me. I had made it to the Montana Circuit Finals a few times and thought to myself, Is this it? I set goals to try to get to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo and I finally did! I want the young ones to know that you can live your dream, if you work hard.”
Coming into the RNCFR for the first time, Josh simply wanted to make it to the semifinals, or what we call the eight-man round. “The first steer I drew wasn’t good and I didn’t have a good run. My second draw was much better and I had a great run, which put me into the eight-man round (semifinals). I realized at that point, I could actually make it to the final four. My nerves on Sunday were going wild; my heart was pounding out of my chest. You practice to have this chance, so I knew I needed to get prepared mentally. I had never been on a stage that big before. My buddies Ty Erickson, Blake Knowles and Kyle Whitaker were telling me, ‘You can really win this! Just don’t overthink it.’” Some competitors in sporting events may seem more like rivals, but in the sport of rodeo, though these contestants are in direct competition with one another, there is a brotherhood in which they truly support each other.
Josh actually competed on fellow contestant Kyle Whitaker’s horse Chuck during the RNCFR, beating out Kyle’s time ever-so-slightly. Josh said, “Kyle is one of the best hazers in the [Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association] today. I knew if I just did my job the rest would be great.”
On Sunday, April 10, 2016, Josh became the 2016 RNCFR Steer Wrestling Champion. “There is nothing better than getting to rodeo on a Sunday in Kissimmee,” he says of the experience. With his entire family there to witness it – parents, grandparents, sister and wife – he took home the title. “What Kissimmee did for someone like me was put me on the map and gave me many opportunities that I might never have been afforded. Winning the RNCFR actually opened doors to possibilities of competing at the [Wrangler National Finals Rodeo]. I am able to get sponsors and live my dream. For all these reasons, I am so thankful and grateful,” says Josh.
On a more personal note, just before the 2017 Montana Circuit Finals, Josh and his wife Jennifer will be welcoming a baby boy! We are all excited for you, Josh, and wish you all the best in your upcoming travels!
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. If your goals aren’t a challenge, you have set the bar too low. If you don’t go to bed tired, you aren’t trying hard enough. Live your life, own your game, play hard and work for your success. Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit.” – Jennifer Boka (Josh’s wife)