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FERGUSON, TOM (1950- )

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association All-Around Champion Cowboy from 1974 through 1979, Oklahoma-born Tom Ferguson came into the world at Tahlequah on December 20, 1950. When he was three years old, his family moved to California, where he grew up. He entered rodeo at age eleven and was later selected for the rodeo team at California Polytechnic State University. The team won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo championship three times. Ferguson turned professional in 1973, joining the Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). In the same year, his family returned to Oklahoma and took up residence at Miami.

Ferguson's specialties were calf roping and steer wrestling, but he also competed in steer roping and team roping. In 1973 he came in second in the All-Around Cowboy world title, a crown that goes to the PRCA member-competitor who wins the most prize money in a year while competing in at least two events. In 1974 he again took top honors, winning a year's total of over $66,000. In that year's competition he won the World Champion Calf Roper title and came in second in steer wrestling. He earned the World Champion Steer Wrestler designation in 1976 and won the National Finals Rodeo steer wrestling competition in 1978. Ferguson retained the All-Around Champion Cowboy title from 1975 through 1979. From 1974 through 1978 his brother Larry also placed in the top fifteen cowboys in the PRCA's All-Around standings and in 1977 captured the PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler crown.

While Ferguson's career peaked in 1979, he remained in the All-Around Cowboy top fifteen money-winners from 1980 through 1984. By 1980 he had the distinction of having earned more money than any previous rodeo competitor, and ultimately he accumulated an estimated total of over a million dollars in his PRCA career. He was one of the first performers in rodeo to hire a manager. By 1996 only two cowboys, Larry Mahan and Ty Murray, had managed to match Ferguson's record for most world titles, and only Murray had accumulated as many consecutive All-Around titles. In the late 1980s Tom Ferguson retired from rodeo.

SEE ALSO: RECREATION AND ENTERTAINMENT, RODEO.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Willard Porter, Who's Who in Rodeo (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Powder River Book Company, 1982). Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, 1996 PRCA Media Guide (Colorado Springs, Colo.: PRCA, 1996). "Tom Ferguson" Vertical File, Rodeo Historical Society Hall of Fame, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Dianna Everett

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