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.
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.
Our mother, she died about three years ago, she took her check many a time and gave me and Bill money to go enter a rodeo. She helped us a lot.
I got a PRCA card in 1965. I was working at that feed mill in Muskogee and I quit and started rodeoing (full-time).
There ain’t no bulldogger that ever lived that had more try than I did. I was raised up pretty tough, and when I got to winning that money, I got that spark to really try hard. I put everything I had in it.
Every chance I got, I was in that practice pen. I wanted to be good, and I wanted to win. The main thing was to win the money.
You can’t rodeo unless you win consistently because it costs so much to go. I liked that rodeoing and not having to work everyday and haul hay and stuff.
Back then, everybody in the rodeo business drank. Well, I got started drinking and went through about an 11-year period that I got pretty bad.
One year I won the championship, I don’t know if it was ’69 or ’72, on my last steer I was messed up so bad drinking I could hardly see the steer. I made a lot of money, but I threw a lot of money away gambling and drinking.
I got saved 28 years ago in Cheyenne, Wyo., and have been going to church ever since. I try to tell all these young cowboys that they sure need to get saved and live right. I tell them my story.
What I am proud of the most is that I got saved and became a Christian. That is the best thing a guy can do, is to be right with the Lord.
You won’t be hanging out in bars. You won’t be fighting. You won’t be drinking. People will like you better. If you get drunk, people don’t really want to be around you. Since I quit drinking, I can tell that because I don’t want to be around a drunk.
I had the biggest jackpot in the world right here in Checotah for 29 years. They would come from Canada and everywhere, a three-day deal. I had a lot of sponsors that gave stuff away. It was the biggest bulldogging in the world.
The last one I had (five years ago), I told them you’ll better watch this, because it will be the last steer I ever run. I gritted my teeth and ran it in 5.0 flat and split the go round. I haven’t run a steer since.
You know that makes you feel good if you are right at 65 years old and you can still throw them steers and win.
Champion steer wrestler