Teenager Najiah Knight Strives to Break Barriers in Bull Riding

by Ethan Kim
women in bull riding

Seventeen-year-old Najiah Knight, weighing just 100 pounds, bravely mounts a formidable 1,300-pound bull, preparing herself with meticulous adjustments of her ropes. In the bustling arena, filled with music and cheers, the only voices she focuses on are those of her supportive parents. At her signal, the chute gate opens, and Najiah, a fearless young woman in a traditionally male-dominated sport, embarks on her challenging performance.

Hailing from a small Oregon town, Najiah is determined to be the first woman to compete at the Professional Bull Riders’ highest tier. Although she must wait until she’s 18 to join and face stiff competition, her unwavering ambition and resilience are evident. The sport’s inherent risks, including severe injuries and fatalities, do not deter her. Since childhood, her goal has been clear: to join PBR and break gender barriers.

At the Junior World Finals in Las Vegas, Najiah, the sole female contender in her age group, showcased her unyielding focus and skill. Despite the sport’s rigorous demands, such as staying atop the wildly bucking bull for eight seconds, she remains undaunted, even after a quick fall in her initial attempt.

Najiah’s life in Arlington, Oregon, reflects that of a typical teenager, balancing school sports and a close-knit community. Her parents recognized her fearlessness early on, starting with her mutton busting at age 3. Her mother, Missi, trained as an EMT to provide care in case of injuries, underscoring the sport’s danger.

Rising through the ranks, Najiah has faced challenges like injuries and the pandemic. Yet, her dedication continues, evidenced by her rigorous training and strategic promotion with her family. Balancing academic excellence with her sporting ambitions, she aims to attend the University of Oregon while pursuing her bull riding dreams.

Najiah’s aspirations transcend personal achievement; she is a role model for women and Native Americans. Proudly embracing her Paiute heritage, she seeks to inspire and represent her community in the sport. As she navigates this journey, her focus remains unshaken. She faces her challenges head-on, driven by a deep-seated passion and conviction in her path.

This story, highlighting Najiah Knight’s remarkable journey, is a part of AP’s inclusive journalism initiative, in collaboration with The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting.

For further details, visit AP Sports and follow AP Sports on Twitter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about women in bull riding

Who is Najiah Knight?

Najiah Knight is a 17-year-old aspiring bull rider from Oregon, aiming to become the first woman to compete at the top level of the Professional Bull Riders tour.

What is Najiah Knight’s goal in bull riding?

Najiah’s goal is to break gender barriers in professional bull riding by becoming the first woman to compete in the Professional Bull Riders’ highest tier.

How does Najiah Knight prepare for bull riding?

Najiah prepares for bull riding by training rigorously, including practicing on a barrel set up with springs and levers to simulate bull rides. She also maintains a balance between her sporting commitments and academic performance.

What challenges does Najiah Knight face in pursuing her bull riding dream?

Najiah faces challenges such as the inherent risks of the sport, including severe injuries, and the competitive nature of qualifying for the top level of professional bull riding.

What makes Najiah Knight’s journey in bull riding unique?

Najiah’s journey is unique due to her determination to succeed in a male-dominated sport at a young age and her role as a representative and role model for women and Native Americans in bull riding.

How does Najiah Knight balance her sports career with her education?

Najiah maintains a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society, showing her commitment to academics alongside her bull riding pursuits. She plans to attend the University of Oregon while continuing her bull riding career.

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BullRider24 December 27, 2023 - 6:46 pm

Go Najiah! She’s amazin, gonna be a champ fo sure.

BullRiderDad December 27, 2023 - 9:15 pm

Proud of my girl, she’s got da heart of a champ!

SportsFanatic December 27, 2023 - 9:44 pm

Wow, dis girl’s got guts, breakin dem barriers!

RodeoQueen December 28, 2023 - 6:16 am

So insprinational, luv her dedicaion n fearlessness!

BullseyeFan December 28, 2023 - 9:33 am

1st woman at PBR? That’s a tough rode to ride, but she’s goin for it!


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