From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
35 From the EditorsArea Missions Are Part of Living History (with 2017 update)Downtown El Paso is Monument to Anson Mills (with 2017 update)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio (with 2017 update)The Magic of Mariachis (with 2017 update)New Generation of Mariachis (with 2017 update)Looking Back at the Chile PepperMen Behind the Chile Pepper (with 2017 update)Hot Peppers: They're Not Just for EatingEl Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations (with 2017 update)Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Serves El Paso County (with 2017 update)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso into a Health Center (with 2017 update)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assault (with 2017 update)Company E Survivor Recalls Days as Prisoner of War (with 2017 update)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers (with 2017 update)
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Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17) Print Page

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Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding

By Patricia Renee Tapia

view PDF version

action shot of Hedeman on bullHe was only four years old when it happened: that old rodeo cowboy slammed the little boy’s hand in the truck door. The tyke never made a sound, not even a whimper. Once the old man realized what had happened, he dubbed the youngster “Tough Nut.” As the little boy grew, it was eventually shortened to “Tuff,” and the name suited him well because he proved to be one of the toughest professional bull riders the sport has ever seen.

Professional bull riding has become “the toughest sport on dirt,” a phrase coined by Professional Bull Riders, Inc. Josh Peter, lead sports enterprise writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, commented that even in the beginning, the bull- riding event always came last in the rodeo because the possibility of seeing a cowboy get battered or, even worse, killed, would keep the fans there for the entire show. What else could make an audience wait to watch an event where each ride lasts for only eight seconds? No other cowboy understands the danger or the attraction better than four- time World Champion Bull Rider, Richard Neale “Tuff” Hedeman.

Image caption:  Bullrider Tuff Hedeman at Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. (Courtesy of Hubbel Rodeo)

In a phone interview, he provided some insight as to how it all started. Hedeman made his debut in the world on March 2, 1963, at Providence Hospital in El Paso, Texas. He is the youngest of seven children born to Red and Clarice Hedeman, and he grew up at La Mesa (Raton), Ruidoso Downs, and Sunland Park racetracks where his dad and mom both worked. Hedeman got his first job at the young age of eight as a groom at the Ruidoso racetrack. Hedeman said that at 15, he began galloping and working the race horses before school.

This led to the dream of becoming a jockey someday, but that dream went up in smoke after he started college and grew too big. Hedeman said his weight rose to 135 pounds, and although that does not seem very heavy, it is a considerable amount for someone wanting to become a jockey. The average jockey weighs between 108 and 118 pounds. Once Hedeman realized his chances of becoming a jockey were doomed, he focused on the only other thing that excited him: rodeo.

According to Hedeman, he rode his first “bull,” which was just a calf, at the age of four in the Upper Valley Arena, which was built by his father and some of the other men that worked at Sunland Park Racetrack. He continued to ride as he grew up, and while attending Coronado High School, he won a couple of high school rodeo titles his junior and senior years. Hedeman said, “I competed in saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, and roping while in high school.”

Graduating from Coronado High in 1981, Hedeman won a rodeo scholarship to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. In an article published in American Cowboy, Kendra Santos wrote that he captured the bull riding title at the National Collegiate Finals in 1983. He rode a bull that no other professional cowboy had been able to ride at the National Finals Rodeo.

That same year he bought his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) permit, which was the first step to becoming a professional rodeo cowboy. PRCA commissioner Karl Stressman explained on the Wrangler Network website how to obtain a PRCA permit. The competitor must be 18 years old, complete the permit application and pay the initiation fee. Once the performer has received the permit, he needs to compete and win $1,000 to be eligible to become a PRCA cardholder, which makes the rider an official PRCA rodeo cowboy. The cardholder does not have to win $1,000 within the first year, but each year he does not reach his $1,000 earnings he must pay the permit fee. After winning $1,000 in PRCA events, he may apply for his PRCA card.

In the first year after purchasing his permit card, Tuff Hedeman fulfilled the conditions of the permit.

According to Jan Reid, author of 10 books and senior writer for Texas Monthly, Hedeman won $2,000 at one rodeo in El Paso, which was twice the amount needed to fulfill his permit and become a contestant cardholder, qualifying him as a professional rodeo cowboy.

In his book Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, & Bull Riders: A Year Inside the Professional Bull Riders Tour, Josh Peters wrote that “Hedeman turned pro and attacked the circuit like a starving man would attack a buffet.” Richard “Tuff” Hedeman lived up to his nickname and went on to become a world champion bull rider despite the heartache he endured and the injuries he suffered.

Hedeman’s career as a professional bull rider took off in 1984. Reid noted that in Hedeman’s second year as a professional bull rider, he won almost $50,000, and at an event in Oklahoma City he qualified for the National Finals. The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is held in Las Vegas, Nev., at the end of every year and is always a sold-out event. Only the top 15 regular season finishers in each event, which includes saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and last, but not least, bull riding, have a chance at the prize money at the National Finals Rodeo. Not only did Hedeman’s career take off that year, but so did his love life. According to Reid, Hedeman met Tracy Stepp in Oklahoma City, a professional barrel racer from Pilot Point, Texas. The following year he placed second in the bull riding standings. Then came PRCA, and he also became the first bull rider to earn $137,000 in a year, unheard of at the time. To top it off, he and Stepp were married on May 20 of that year.

Tuff Hedeman soon learned that with the success of bull riding came hardships interwoven with the friendships made along the way. Reid explained that it was common for rodeo cowboys to team up and travel together to events in order to split travel expenses and make time on the road much less lonesome. According to Hedeman, the first year he traveled with Bart Wilkinson, a college acquaintance. Over the next several years, he would travel with Cody Lambert, Clint Branger, Jim Sharp and Lane Frost.

Lane Frost began traveling with Hedeman in 1985. According to Santos, Hedeman and Frost first became acquainted in 1980 at the National High School Rodeo Association Finals. Jan Reid said that Jim Sharp joined them in 1986, and according toJosh Peter, that was “more bull riding talent than anyone had ever seen in one vehicle.” Reid confirmed this in his statement, “For six straight years, either Tuff, Lane, or Jim was the world champion.”

Hedeman and Frost developed a close friendship, and according to Santos, “An all- out passion for riding bulls was what drew Lane and him together.” They became the best of friends, and according to Hedeman, he spent more time with Frost than he did his wife. Peter pointed out that although Hedeman had won more championships than Frost, Frost had been the more popular rider with his “lanky frame and an undeniable charm.” Hedeman and Lambert would threaten to leave Frost behind after an event because Frost always took the time to sign autographs and chat with fans.

Then came Frost’s untimely death. The tragedy occurred on July 30, 1989, in Cheyenne, Wyo. According to Jan Reid, Lane Frost rode a bull for the required eight seconds, but when he dismounted, he landed on his hands and knees. The bull gave Frost a jab with a blunted horn. Hedeman watched from 30 feet away. Frost got to his feet but then collapsed on the ground and remained motionless. The bull’s horn had broken a rib which, in turn, had severed a coronary artery. Frost bled to death within a matter of minutes.

Josh Peter wrote that “with Frost gone, Hedeman became the sport’s number one Ambassador.” He began staying after the events to sign autographs just as Frost had. Though many people would have quit after witnessing a tragedy that amplifi the brutality of bull riding, Rick Cantu, a veteran sports writer for the Austin American-Statesman, recounted what Hedeman told him in a phone call. Hedeman said, “if I had quit bull riding when he died, I wouldn’t have been happy. I surely wasn’t happy about losing him, but to say I wouldn’t do this anymore wouldn’t make any sense.”

Proving the solemnity of this statement, Hedeman won his second PRCA World Champion Bull Rider title at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, just months after his best friend’s death. After successfully riding his last bull of the night and clinching the world champion title, Hedeman rode for an additional eight seconds in honor of Lane Frost.

It was that kind of determination that drew the respect and admiration of fans and fellow bull riders. Hedeman had worked hard to get where he was. Santos explained in her article that Hedeman was not a natural at bull riding. She said he gave some of the credit for his abilities to riding racehorses, which gave him good balance. Jan Reid explained that there are bull-riding schools to help teach riders the technical skills to stay on the bull, but according to Hedeman, the sport is really basic. In Reid’s article Hedeman claimed, “Riding bulls is about ten percent talent. The rest of it’s balls.”

According to Reid, Hedeman projected this attitude in his prime. Reid explained that Hedeman had the physique of a “light-heavyweight boxer.” And though he was bowlegged and pigeon-toed “to the point of slapstick comedy,” he walked with an air of confi Willard H. Porter, rodeo journalist and former rodeo director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, declared that even at the beginning of Hedeman’s career, the PRCA riding director, Bryan McDonald, noticed the mental toughness Hedeman had. It was his mental toughness that led him to win his third PRCA World Championship Bull Rider title in 1991.

In 1992, Tuff Hedeman and 19 other professional bull riders organized the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR). Hedeman was president of the PBR until 2004. Kendall Hamilton, a writer and editor for Newsweek, pointed out that until the early 1990s, bull riders had been risking their lives for the chance to win a small amount of money and a trophy belt buckle. He noted that it was the goal of these 20 bull riders to make bull riding a stand-alone event and increase the prize money, keeping the cowboys’ interests at heart.

The PBR succeeded in doing this and took bull riding to an entirely new level. One way it made the Professional Bull Riders Tour a success was to give fans what they wanted: danger. The PBR matched the best bull riders with the toughest bulls, or as professional bull riders like to call them, “rank” bulls. According to Josh Peter, “The ranker the bull, the more dangerous and the tougher to ride.”

Peter explained that early on, many bulls would not buck, so a couple of rodeo promoters introduced a crossbreed of Brahmas, which were known for their mean streak and ungovernable hankering to buck. Riding one of these rank bulls gave the rodeo cowboy a better chance for a high score, “and no one had wanted to win more than Tuff Hedeman.” He was known for riding the rankest of the bulls, and that is why many of the fans admired him.

To draw one of these rank bulls at a rodeo meant there was a chance that the rider would get seriously injured, and up until 1993, Hedeman had never been seriously injured. He had gotten hung up once and booted around the arena, but nothing serious enough to keep him from riding for a lengthy period of time. Santos wrote that this changed in 1993 at the National Finals Rodeo when Hedeman was paralyzed for the longest ten minutes of his life after being thrown from a bull. Although he regained feeling, he underwent surgery to remove a bulging disk and the doctors fused his neck with a steel plate and a bone graft from his hip.

The irony was that earlier that year, Hedeman had accomplished what no other rodeo cowboy had done before: he had accumulated $1 million in his career as a rodeo cowboy, according to Reid. Santos said that Hedeman was out the entire year of 1994, recuperating. He returned to bull riding in 1995.

It started off as a good year for Hedeman, but as Kendall Hamilton said, “Injuries and bull riding go together like cowboys and hats.” According to Josh Peter, Hedeman had already earned enough points to win the 1995 PBR World Championship title. For those who do not understand the concept of winning the PBR World Champion title, here is a brief explanation.

According to the PBR website, each ride in a PBR event is eight seconds long. If the bull rider stays on the entire eight seconds, he can receive a score of up to 100 points. Fifty of those points are for the rider and the other 50 are for the bull. The bull is judged on his athleticism and difficult to ride, and the rider is judged on his control during the ride. If the rider does not stay on for the full eight seconds, he receives no score. Based on points earned throughout the season, the top 40 bull riders in the world compete at the PBR Built Ford Tough Finals at the end of the year.

Hedeman with former high school principalAt the PBR Finals, the bull riders compete in six rounds of competition over a period of fi days. The bull rider who accumulates the most points throughout the season, to include the PBR Finals, becomes the PBR World Champion. Tuff Hedeman had one final ride at the 1995 PBR Finals although he had already clinched the PBR World Champion Title. He had drawn Bodacious, considered one of the rankest bulls in the world. In fact, Bodacious had only been ridden successfully six times out of the 135 times a cowboy had been on his back, one of them being Hedeman, according to Peter. They were now paired up again.

In a documentary video on YouTube, Hedeman described what happened next. Not long after exiting the chute, Bodacious jerked his head back and Hedeman’s face smashed against the bull’s head. Hedeman’s face was shattered and he lost teeth. He underwent six and a half hours of reconstructive surgery and six titanium plates were placed in his face. Hedeman lost his sense of taste and smell.

Image caption:  Tuff Hedeman with his former Coronado High School Principal, Charles Murphree.  (Courtesy of Charles Murphree.)

Kevin Simpson wrote in an online news article for The Denver Post that just after Hedeman’s run- in with the bull, he promised his then 3-year-old son, Lane, that if he drew Bodacious again, he would “chicken out” or forfeit his opportunity to ride the bull. As luck would have it, Hedeman did draw Bodacious six weeks later at the 1995 PRCA National Finals.

Josh Peter said that Hedeman climbed on top of the bull, but when the gate opened, he “turned him out,” letting the bull leave the chute without him and tipping his hat to Bodacious. According to Peter, Hedeman continued to ride bulls until 1998 when another neck injury made him realize it was time to retire.

 Hedeman settled down in Morgan Mill, Texas, with his wife Tracy and their two boys, Lane and Trevor. According to Peter, Hedeman resigned as president of the PBR in 2004 because he felt the riders were no longer the main concern of the PBR. Hedeman then became president of the Championship Bull Riding (CBR) organization in May 2005, which was founded in 2002 by a stock contractor, Terry Williams, and a businessman, Joel Logan.

The CBR is a stand-alone bull riding organization like the PBR. Hedeman explained his mission as ambassador for the CBR when he stated, “My goals are the same as they have always been and that is to create a system based on merit only — with no politics or favoritism. I want to create events that guys want to come to, not that they have to come to.”

In May 1997, Hedeman was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. Later that same year he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Then in 1999, he was inducted into the Professional Bull Riders Ring of Honor and in 2002, into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. With four professional bull riding world titles and a number of business accomplishments, he has defi earned the status of the “Michael Jordan of bull riding.”

Hedeman has certainly lived up to the nickname “Tuff,” and despite the heartache of losing his best friend and the serious injuries he suffered in the latter part of his career, he managed to become one of the most revered World Champion bull riders. Hedeman was instrumental in helping make professional bull riding what it is today. With its tremendous increase in prize money and broadcasts on national television, bull riding has grown into an international sport.

Although Hedeman no longer competes, he is still active in the bull riding community as ambassador of the CBR and broadcaster at numerous bull riding events. The tale of Richard Neale “Tuff” Hedeman is an inspiration to all. Despite injury and loss, champions do not quit. With heart and determination, Tuff truly showed he was — tough!


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