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January 2, 2013

Brett Hoffman: Lyne’s all-around title remains great feat in rodeo world

Athens — Forty years ago, Phil Lyne accomplished a very remarkable feat as he clinched the world all-around title.

Unlike the majority of all-around champions, Lyne competed on a world class level in a timed event and a bucking stock riding event. In 1972, Lyne, who was from the South Texas town of George West, also won the world tie-down roping title and finished runner up in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's bull riding race after winning the average at the National Finals Rodeo.

Throughout 1972, film producer Kieth Merrill shot the rodeo documentary, The Great American Cowboy.

The movie's main storyline was the battle for the world all-around title between Lyne and Larry Mahan. Mahan, who competed in bucking stock events, sustained an injury and dropped out.

Lyne continued on and clinched his second consecutive all-around title and then semi-retired.

The Great American Cowboy was released in 1973 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Also in 1972, Don Gay of Mesquite earned his first National Finals berth. Two years later, he clinched his first of a record eight world bull riding titles. And the saddle bronc, Descent, clinched Bucking Horse of the Year title for the sixth consecutive year.   

There are many other great anniversary years for rodeo such as:

1962: Freckles Brown, at the age of 41, clinched the world bull riding title.

Five years later, during the 1967 National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Brown became the first cowboy to make a qualified ride on the legendary bull, Tornado, which was owned by Jim Shoulders, a 1950s all-around champion who became a stock contractor.

1982: Charles Sampson became the first African-American to win a PRCA world title. The Los Angeles resident snared the bull riding gold buckle.

On the National Cutting Horse Association circuit, Smart Little Lena and rider Bill Freeman won the 1982 NCHA Futurity in Fort Worth, which was the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The also won the other two jewels--the Super Stakes and the Derby--in 1983. After all that, Smart Little Lena became the NCHA’s first Triple Crown winner.

1992: Ty Murray, who was the reigning all-around champion in the PRCA, and Tuf Hedeman, who had earned three PRCA bull riding world titles, were among 20 cowboys who congregated in a small hotel room in Scottsdale, Ariz., to form the Professional Bull Riders. Each cowboy put up $1,000 and launched what has become the world's toughest circuit for bull riding.

The PBR conducted its first season in 1994. In 2013, the PBR will conduct its 20th season, which will begin with a Jan. 4-6 tour stop at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

The tour also will stop at Arlington's Cowboys Stadium on March 2.

2002: Trevor Brazile of Decatur clinched his first of a record 10 world all-around titles at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Brazile clinched his tenth title earlier this month at the 2012 NFR in Vegas.

Also in 2002, Cash Myers of Athens finished second in the PRCA’s world steer wrestling title race after competing in the NFR. Myers also finished fourth in the all-around race.

In the NCHA, Chiquita Pistol and rider Tag Rice won the 2002 Futurity. They also went on to win the 2002-03 Triple Crown.

Only three horses have won the Triple Crown. The other two are Smart Little Lena and Freeman (1982-83), and Docs Okie Quixote and rider Joe Heim (1983-84).

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