Cooper carrying on family tradition

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GUTHRIE, Okla. – Jimmie Cooper is one of the greatest cowboys in ProRodeo history.

From Monument, N.M., Cooper was the 1980 overall, steer wrestling and tie-down roping Rookie of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. A year later, he was crowned the all-around world champion. He qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in team roping, tie-down roping and steer wrestling. For that, he has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

Though he scaled back his rodeo schedule in 1985 to focus on his family, Jimmie Cooper remained active enough to continue to win. In fact, he was a three-time titlist at the Timed Event Championship, a once-a-year unique event that features just 20 cowboys competing in all five timed-event disciplines: heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping.

He won the coveted title at the “Ironman of ProRodeo” in 1988, ’92 and ’94 and is one of just 12 men to have earned the event’s gold buckle. He last competed in the Timed Event in 2012, when he was 55 years old. Last March, he was awarded the Clem McSpadden Pioneer Award.

Jim Ross Cooper
Jim Ross Cooper

This year, he will be remembered again, this time while watching son, Jim Ross Cooper. Jim Ross, a five-time NFR qualifier in heeling, returns to the Lazy E Arena, a place where he grew up watching his father compete with the greatest in the game. This will be the third time the younger Cooper has competed in the event – he also was one of the featured players in 2011-12.

This year’s Timed Event takes place Friday, March 4-Sunday, March 5, at the arena northeast of Oklahoma City. Jim Ross Cooper would love nothing better than to show the rodeo world why he owns the genetics of a true legend.

“My bulldogging performance in the past has embarrassed me there,” said Jim Ross, a key member of the Tate Branch Auto Group “Riding for the Brand” team of ProRodeo cowboys. “It’s a mountain I have to climb, because I don’t like the feeling of something getting the better of me, so I’m going to have another go at it.”

That redemption is always on the back of his mind, but he also loves the format. It’s a true test of a cowboy’s skills, and the five-round championship spread out over just three days not only tests each man’s endurance but also his mental focus.

“It’s one of the coolest events of the year for rodeo,” Jim Ross said. “There’s a lot more technical difficulty to it and a lot of cowboy to it. As much as it brings out the best all-around cowboy in rodeo – which is why Trevor Brazile has won it so many times (7) – it shows who has the ability to adjust to the challenges, be mentally tough and figure it out.”

That’s where the family’s legendary talent will truly shine.


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