Tuf Cooper always remembers his dad being a big deal.
He knew his father was someone special. He could see it in the awe-stricken faces of the young cowboys who would show up at Tuf’s house to learn from the great Roy Cooper, who will be inducted in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame with five others on Aug. 4.
“The way people would look at him when they showed up at my house,” said Tuf, 24, the youngest of Roy’s three sons. “The way Cody (Ohl) would talk to my dad. The way Trevor (Brazile) would look at and talk to my dad. I thought it was cool that people wanted my dad’s autograph.”
Both Ohl and Brazile, who later became Roy’s son-in-law, would go on to win multiple Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association world championships. Tuf won the 2011 world championship in tie-down roping.
They are just three of hundreds of cowboys who were influenced by the eight-time world champion roper called the Super Looper.
“He’s had a huge impact on everybody,” Tuf said of his father. “The one thing every roper knows, if you are down and you are not winning, it doesn’t matter if you are family or not, you can call Roy. He will make you forget about all the bad runs you had.”
Roy Cooper, 58, was born in Hobbs, N.M., but always had Oklahoma blood running through his veins. His mother, Betty Rose Cooper (or Granny Rose as Tuf calls her) grew up just outside of Lawton.
Cooper grew up on a ranch and his father, Tuffy Cooper, was a livestock inspector and champion roper in college. Both his parents and his siblings were ropers so Roy thought that it was what he should do, too.
By the time he was 12 years old, Roy Cooper knew he wanted to be a rodeo cowboy. He won a high school national championship and a junior college national championship.
He then joined the rodeo team for Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, helping to lead the team to two national titles.
He would live in Durant for 12 years, and it was during his time in Oklahoma that he would have his most success in the PRCA.
Of Cooper’s eight world championships, six were in tie-down roping, one in steer roping and one all-around. He won the coveted Triple Crown (tie-down roping, steer roping and all-around titles in the same season) in 1983.
Cooper, who now lives in Decatur, Texas, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 20 times. He made 13 trips to the National Finals Steer Roping.
South Dakota cowboy Paul Tierney, a Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer, said Cooper raised the bar for everyone when he bought his PRCA card.
In 1976, Cooper won his first world tie-down championship and the PRCA’s rookie of the year award, breaking the record for the most prize money earned in a season by a rookie.
Unlike other cowboys, Cooper never worried about what calf he would draw at a rodeo, Tierney said.
“He wasn’t concerned about getting the best calf,” Tierney said. “He would just take what was handed to him and rope and jump off and usually beat your butt. He tied faster. He had a different tie than anybody else in the game, in what we call the short wrap.