COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Stars converged Saturday as the 2023 ProRodeo Hall of Fame class was immortalized.
Steer wrestler Luke Branquinho, a five-time PRCA World Champion, headed up a star-studded 2023 induction class for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Branquinho is joined by two-time PRCA World Champion Saddle Bronc rider Cody Wright (2008 and 2010), PRCA World Champion Team Roper Doyle Gellerman (1981), pickup man Kenny Clabaugh, rodeo notables Butch Knowles and Tom Feller and standout bareback horse Nightjacket, rodeo committees from the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo and Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove, N.J., and barrel racer Sherry (Combs) Johnson, the 1962 WPRA World Champion and WPRA notable Fay Ann Horton Leach.
The 2023 Ken Stemler Pioneer Award, which recognizes those who have provided groundbreaking, innovative ideas and forward thinking that help the development, advancement, and success of the PRCA and or the Hall of Fame and their missions is being awarded to Bryan McDonald, former bull rider and National Finals Rodeo judge. His foresight on day money and work with PROCOM have set the industry apart.
Branquinho is now a Hall of Famer
Branquinho, who was known for his booty shake, qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 14 times – 2001-04, 2006-15 – and won the average three times in 2008, 2011 and 2014. He has the record for most NFR rounds won by a steer wrestler at 25.
“I don’t even know if words can describe it,” Branquinho said. “A guy starts his rodeo career just wanting to be the best that he can and win a world championship and to win five is pretty special. Then to be able to consider myself as one of the greatest with what you guys are saying being inducted into the Hall, I don’t have words to describe it. Some of my heroes are in there obviously, John W. Jones Jr. and John W. Jones Sr., and a lot of the California cowboys that helped put ProRodeo on the map and to be able to be in that Hall with them is very special.”
Branquinho was still digesting that he was being immortalized as one of rodeo’s greats.
“To be in the same building as the legends of the sport is still a little bit surreal, that I’m going to be in there with them,” Branquinho said. “When a person starts this journey of rodeo, being a hall of famer is not necessarily the goal. You just try and go out there and win as much as you can and support your family and hopefully at the end of the day you are called a great champion and to be put in the Hall of Fame, that means you accomplished all that and more.”
Although Branquinho had countless memorable rodeo moments – he pinpointed living the life of a PRCA cowboy is what he enjoyed most.
“The memories going down the road is something I will never forget,” Branquinho said. “When you’re rodeoing, the people you meet, and the friends you are traveling with they become your family. No matter what part of the country you are in you can pick up a phone and get help if you need it. Running in the Thomas & Mack and looking up and seeing the family that supported you 365 days out of the year to try and achieve those goals and being able wave to them after the 10th round knowing you just accomplished something very few people do is incredible.”
courtesy of the PRCA