The world of a bull rider is tough. It’s a sport in which a person attempts to stay perched atop an angry, hulking bovine for eight very long seconds. Although practiced in other countries, the version typically seen in the United States is extra brutal and has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.” Now meet a bull rider who made a name for himself in this crazy activity: Texan Myrtis Dightman.
Myrtis Dightman was born in Crockett, Texas on May 7, 1935. He began bull riding in 1960, after receiving encouragement from local mentors. Despite being frequently turned away from motels and restaurants, enduring insults and prejudice, and not being allowed to ride until crowds had left the area due to his race, Dightman proved his skills time and time again. Not only did he become the first African American cowboy to go to the National Rodeo Finals, but he did it six times. In 1997, Dightman became the first living African American cowboy inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Professional Bull Riders Ring of Honor, and the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame. In May 2011, the city of Crockett unveiled a bust of Dightman, which remains proudly set in front of the Porth Agricultural Arena.
Photo: @bsd_louisiana via Twenty20
The 1982 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) World Champion bull rider Charlie Sampson was inspired by Dightman. Sampson was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1996, and he’s the first African American cowboy to win a World Title in professional rodeo. Today’s new stars are Texan Ezekiel Mitchell and Oregon native Najiah Knight. Who is your favorite bull rider, either active or retired? Texas has an impressive history of rodeo participants and lovers, almost everyone has a story to tell!