Larry Mahan was the all-around world champion in 1966-70 and 1973. He also was the bull riding champ in 1965 and 1967. He qualified for […]
Original Wrangler Bullfights Hall of Fame
Written by: Gail Woerner< Back to Articles
The second annual Original Wrangler Bullfights Hall of Fame was held at Lil Red’s Longhorn Saloon in the Stockyards of Fort Worth, Saturday evening, October 16th. The Induction includes bullfighters from the second season, of the 1981 to 2000 Wrangler Bullfight Tour. A few more awards and honors were bestowed on people who were instrumental in getting this historic first time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event up and running..
The Wrangler Bullfight Tour was started forty years ago in 1981, after several bullfighters from that era, Jim Sutton, a 2nd generation rodeo producer and stock contractor, and David Allen, the rodeo representative of Wrangler, at that time, got together and convinced the PRCA, it was sorely needed. The professional bullfighters and barrelmen had not had their own professional event to show their exceptional ability in fighting bulls prior to this Tour event. The Tour was held at various PRCA rodeos throughout the year. The bullfighters that were competing that year would compete at a set number of events and their scores were kept until the end of the season. The top six would then compete at the National Finals, which was being held in Oklahoma City, at first. Each of the six would fight one bull each night for four nights. The bullfighter with the top score would become the World Champion Bullfighter.
Jim Sutton, from Onida, South Dakota, for two years added to some of his rodeos an extra added attraction of four bullfighters that would fight Mexican Fighting Bulls. He would include this in his advertising prior to the event. In time, it was evident the bullfighting brought more spectators to his rodeos, just to watch this event. The results of his ‘experiment’ were the catalyst to cause PRCA to include the Wrangler Bullfight Tour.
The Original Wrangler Bullfights Hall of Fame was the idea of James Pierce, a 1991 bullfighter with the Wrangler Bullfight Tour. He fought bulls from 1990 to 2005, and calls Thibodeaux, Louisiana, home. He has taken the reins of this Hall of Fame, with other former participating bullfighters from the Wrangler Bullfights Tour – plus Craig & Jane Copeland who own Lil Red’s Longhorn Saloon the home of this annual affair. The plaques of all inductees are on display in Lil Red’s Longhorn Saloon.
Those honored this year were: Leon Coffee; George Doak (deceased) with son George Jr. accepting for his dad; Eric Viers; Darl Allred; Steve Mowry and Kirby Birney whose acceptance was told by his daughter, Cody, Miles Hare and Michael ‘Smurf’ Horton. Stock Contractor of the year was Mr. Harry Vold (deceased) who was represented by his daughter, Kirsten who also accepted the Bull of the year, Crooked Nose, owned by Harry Vold.. Barrel Men honored were Tom Feller and John Taylor. The Resistol Supporting Legend Award was given to Jim Sutton and David Allen.
Those doing introductions and more during the program were: Robert Blue Jeanes, former bullfighter and PRCA Bullfighter Director; five time World Champion Bullfighter Rob Smets; and Shelley Burmeister Mowery, former Miss Coors and very involved in the early day development of the Wrangler Bullfight Tour. All three did an outstanding job by not only giving the credentials for those receiving honors and awards, but also relayed personal stories of these special folks.
It was a packed house and the main comment made was those in attendance were so grateful to see so many rodeo people – the rough and tough bullfighters, rodeo friends, they hadn’t seen in years, and all were smiling! Just to name a few of the former bullfighters in the audience were Rick Young, Ronny & Donny Sparks, Todd Propson, David Burnham, John Novotny, Steve Tomac, Jim Bob Feller, Miles Hare, Rob Smets, Doug Forzani, Eddie Hatfield, Barry Hankins and many more.
Additionally a 3rd annual Knox Concrete Fund/Fun Raising Charity Golf Tournament was held by the Original Wrangler Bullfights Hall of Fame in collaboration with Cowboys Helping Cowboys Charity Events, which is ramrodded by Dave Samsel, former NFR bull rider, to benefit injured rodeo athletes in need.
Also, at the Saturday night event a live auction was held, with a variety of rodeo and bullfighting related items to be bid on, including branding irons, donated by Kirsten Vold, that in the past were used to brand Crooked Nose, Bull of the Year, also a painting of George Doak fighting a bull by Buster Kenton, plus many other items. The recipients of this year’s Golf Tournament and auction by Cowboys Helping Cowboys were Kirby Birney, Inductee Bullfighter; Jeff Collins, World Champion Bareback Rider; and Cody Ohl, World Champion All-Around and Tie Down Roper.