Sports


Not Your Average Cowboy Nice-Guy Ty Murray May Not Sing In Saddle, But He Politely Dominates Prca

SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 1995

Ty Murray is rodeo’s top hand.

He’s dominated the arena for years, most recently winning a record-tying sixth all-around cowboy title and solidifying his status as a superstar in spurs.

The fresh-faced 25-year-old from Stephenville, Texas, fits all the cowboy stereotypes.

He’s taciturn. He works hard. He’s polite and quick to use “ma’am” when speaking. OK, maybe he doesn’t sing in the saddle, but that could be a little hard to do when that saddle is strapped to a bucking bronc.

“I don’t know if I’m shy. I’m not real … talkative,” Murray said.

The only blot on his public record came in 1994 in Colorado, when he was caught chasing a cow elk with a snowmobile. That indiscretion cost Murray a $1,333.30 fine for wildlife harassment.

Since then, the only animals he’s chased have been those on the rodeo circuit.

Murray has ruled the riding events in professional rodeo since he started at 19. He gained early fame as a bareback and saddle-bronc rider, but is now a main factor in the spotlight bull-riding competition, taking the title in 1993.

He was selected Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rookie of the year in 1988, became the PRCA’s youngest all-around champion, and was the first competitor in 20 years to qualify for the National Finals in three bucking stock events: bareback riding, saddlebronc riding and bull riding.

Murray needed just 5 years to ease past the $1 million earnings mark. No cowboy’s done it faster.

The awards and accolades are boundless. And even though he’s earned more money a year than anyone, he treats all the hoopla as mere fluff.

“If you take one day at a time and one ride at a time, you can’t do any better than that,” he said.

Murray’s six all-around titles tie him with Larry Mahan and Tom Ferguson in rodeo record books.

The difference is Murray is still riding.

“He’s had as big an impact on rodeo as Michael Jordan on basketball or Wayne Gretzky to hockey,” said Steve Fleming, director of communications with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

The result is that Murray has become a quiet spokesman for the sport.

“He’s had a huge impact on rodeo and the way it’s gauged by the general public,” Fleming said. “He’s been a joy to work with. He knows how good he is, he’s humble but he knows how good he is.”

His fellow riders both admire and desire his talent and exposure. Murray wears a black hat, but he’s considered one of the good guys.

“He’s my hero,” said bronc rider Jeff Collins of Fort Scott, Kan. “He’s a superstar in this game.”

The demands of rodeo riding are stiff, and to last for many years is a task in itself.

First of all there is the toll on the body. Murray says he never practices but still has about 500 rides a year.

And there’s plenty of danger. In 1994, bull-rider Brent

Thurman died from head injuries suffered on the circuit.

“I’m doing maybe the most dangerous sport in the world. It makes you re-evaluate and rediscover,” Murray said.

It also makes him plan ahead. Murray rarely discusses how he spends his money, but he does say he plans to raise cattle when he can no longer compete.

“I started a herd. It’s grown to where I’ve got a pretty good herd,” he said of his ranches in Colorado and Texas.

But that’s his only goal. He doesn’t have one for his rodeo days.

“I never have set goals,” he said. “Every time I go I try to win.”

And he does.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The Ty Murray file Career highlights Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rookie of the year 1988. Six consecutive PRCA world all-around titles (1989-94) and the 1993 bull-riding title. Won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association allaround title and the PRCA’s world all-around crown in his first trip to the National Finals. At 20, Murray became the PRCA’s youngest all-around champion. First competitor to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in three bucking stock events: bareback riding, saddle-bronc riding and bull riding in 1990.

Earnings Surpassed the $1 million mark in 1993 in 5 years, the fastest in history. Set an National Finals earnings record in 1991 with $101,242 during the 10-performance rodeo in Las Vegas. Surpassed the $200,000 season-earnings mark in 1992 for the third straight year.

This sidebar appeared with the story: The Ty Murray file Career highlights Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rookie of the year 1988. Six consecutive PRCA world all-around titles (1989-94) and the 1993 bull-riding title. Won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association allaround title and the PRCA’s world all-around crown in his first trip to the National Finals. At 20, Murray became the PRCA’s youngest all-around champion. First competitor to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in three bucking stock events: bareback riding, saddle-bronc riding and bull riding in 1990.

Earnings Surpassed the $1 million mark in 1993 in 5 years, the fastest in history. Set an National Finals earnings record in 1991 with $101,242 during the 10-performance rodeo in Las Vegas. Surpassed the $200,000 season-earnings mark in 1992 for the third straight year.



Click here to comment on this story »







Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile