The American — Sunday’s record $2 million, single-performance rodeo at AT&T Stadium — will feature an array of world champion competitors from the past three decades.
For example, Charmayne James, who won her first of 11 world titles in 1984, is on the card. Sherry Cervi, the defending world champion, also is in the lineup.
In steer wrestling, Ote Berry, who snared his first of four titles in 1985, is competing. So is defending world champion Hunter Cure.
“We want to reinvigorate the rodeo,” said Randy Bernard, the chief executive officer of RFD-TV who is serving as the rodeo’s key organizer. “If you were a fan of rodeo in 1985 and 1990, you might possibly have faded off into another sport. So, I think bringing folks like Charmayne reinvigorates people’s enthusiasm.”
Bernard said the wide range of gold buckle winners will be a big hit with fans.
“A person might say, ‘I was a huge fan of Charmayne and Dan Mortensen and I’m coming back to watch them,’” Bernard said. “‘But I’ve also been watching the Road To The American [preview show], I’m become interested in the current champions and now I’m really back into it.’” Bernard said.
Lots of gold
Among the field of competitors, 146 world titles have been won either in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association or the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Professional Bull riders, Bernard said. Nineteen of those gold buckles were snared by defending world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, the most of any competitor in the PRCA.
Brazile has qualified for The American in tie-down roping and team roping. His wife, Shada, made the cut in barrel racing.
“This is something that’s ground breaking,” Brazile said of the $2 million rodeo. “The sport is being elevated to a whole new level.”
During The American Semifinals last weekend in Mesquite, Fred Whitfield defeated Joe Beaver in a tie-down roping match, and Jake Barnes edged Speed Williams and Clay O’Brien Cooper in a team roping match. It was initially announced that the winners of each match would advance to The American in the exemption slots (which meant they did not have to attend qualifier shows the past six months). But after the matches, Bernard invited all five former world champions to compete.
Beaver is another prime example of a 1980s star. He won his first of five PRCA world tie-down roping titles in 1985.