Collected wisdom: Roy Duvall talks about bulldogging and turning his life around

by Ed Godfrey Published: October 6, 2012
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Champion steer wrestler

Age: 70

Residence: Checotah

After Jim Shoulders, Roy Duvall might be the toughest cowboy Oklahoma ever produced.

Duvall won three Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association world titles in steer wrestling, finished second four times, and qualified to the National Finals Rodeo a record 24 times as a bulldogger.

I was born in Hitchita, little town between Checotah and Henryetta. My dad and mother lived there and that is where me and (brother) Bill was born.

When we got a little bigger, we moved over to Dewar and then we moved up on the Deep Fork River, and that's where me and Bill kind of growed up. We sawed logs and cut wood and my dad worked at the smelter.

My dad rode bulls and fought bulls some when I was young. He bulldogged some, too. He and my mother separated. He left and nobody ever saw my dad again.

I'm sure my dad was dead a few years after he left because he got on the alcohol bad. That's what caused the separation. When he wasn't drinking, he was the nicest guy you ever met.

My mother went to Oklahoma City to get a job. I moved over to Wainwright, north of Checotah, on a dairy where my mother's sister and her husband lived. He had horses and stuff. I worked at the dairy and went to school at Wainwright.

We built an arena. Me and Bill bought us four or five steers, two big ones for me and two little ones for Bill, and we started bulldogging.

We didn't know nothing about it. We just started. I got to watching the Cowtown Rodeo back in New York (on television). It was on every week. Jim Shoulders was on there a time or two, and I always idolized Jim. I would hurry and get done milking the cows so I could go watch the rodeo.

I never could swing a rope, and steer wrestling was a deal where you didn't have to. If you had a lot of guts, you just bailed off and took a hold of them.

There were a lot of bulldoggers in our area. That's kind of the reason we started bulldogging.

There have been 29 championships brought to Checotah in steer wrestling. Eleven in the PRCA and the rest of them in the IRA (International Rodeo Association) and smaller associations. I have never heard of no other town in one event having that many champions.

The first rodeo I went to was a junior rodeo in Sallisaw. There were six or eight bulldoggers in it. I caught this steer in each hand. I wound up third, which wasn't hard to do at a junior rodeo. I won like $15 and thought I had done great.

For a year, we would rodeo at junior rodeos and got to where we placed a little bit, and then we started to going to amateur rodeos. In 1962, we got an IRA card.

We were working in Muskogee at a feed mill, me and Bill was, and we got to going to the IRA rodeos, which were close. We did everything we could to make money and enter a rodeo.


by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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