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From the Vault: Everett Bowman

by Matt Naber | Nov 23, 2018

Few people, if any, have been more important to the sport of rodeo than the legendary Everett Bowman. The 10-time world champion cowboy – who had all-around titles in 1935 and ’37 – was also the first president of the Cowboys’ Turtle Association, the forerunner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. 

Bowman was a leader of the cowboys that went on strike to protest a rodeo in Boston Garden in November 1936 because the promoter’s payout was less than the entry fees. Bowman was elected president of the CTA in early 1937 and served until 1945. 

As CTA president, Bowman led professional cowboys through a difficult and uncertain time when some prominent rodeos were opposed to the CTA. But Bowman wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out to benefit the sport, and the CTA evolved into the Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1945. 

Most of the fundamental changes in rodeo that are now the bedrock of the sport came under Bowman’s leadership: adding entry fees to prize money, fair and impartial judging, codified rules and regulations, humane treatment of livestock, and minimum standards for approval as a professional rodeo.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound native of Hope, N.M., was born in 1899 and began working on ranches when he left home at 16. Bowman won four world championships in steer wrestling (1930, ’33, ’35 and ’38), three in tie-down roping (1929, ’35 and ’37) and one in steer roping (1937). 

After leaving the CTA, Bowman worked his ranch in Wickenburg, Ariz., became a deputy sheriff in Maricopa County and joined the Arizona State Highway Patrol, where he retired as a captain. 

He was also among the inaugural class of inductees into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979. 

At the time of his death – Bowman was piloting his Cessna plane and crashed in 1971 – Phoenix Gazette reporter Kenneth Arline wrote: “Everett Bowman was both the George Washington and Babe Ruth of rodeo.”

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