Arizona's unknown cowboys breaking barriers

Posted at 6:16 AM, Mar 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-05 08:16:01-05

They are Arizona's unknown cowboys.

This weekend in Chandler, they're getting the chance to put their skills to the test at a rodeo where they don't just want to break records, but also break barriers.

It doesn't get any more Arizona than horses, hats and boots, but there's something about these cowboys that they admit turns heads.

"You'd be surprised at how people just stop on the street and look at us and stare us," explains Alvito Robinson. "They want to take pictures of us. They've never seen a black cowboy before."

Robinson has been riding for 30 years. As a young boy in Detroit, he never imagined life would take him all the way to Arizona, never dreamed he'd become a real life cowboy and never realized just how much he'd fall in love.

"I ride my horse everywhere," he explains. "I go to the store, I go to McDonalds! I go downtown."

It's a yearning, it's a hunger, it's drive -- and that passion is taking Robinson and his friends to the Arizona Black Rodeo this weekend. It's a sport that's typically dominated by white athletes.

"I like to show people that we are here as well," says Ramontay McConnel, a sophomore at Arizona State University who has been riding since he was eight. Now, it's just a matter of showing the rest of the world he exists.

"Change takes time and maybe in a matter of time, we'll be on the map."

But on that journey, there have already been lessons. Lessons that go beyond a medal or trophy, instead, they're badges he can always wear on his heart.

"Sometimes, you will get bucked off, but that just gives you a reason to get back on."

For ticket information, click here.