Roy Cooper (rodeo cowboy)

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Roy Dale Cooper (born November 13, 1955)[1] is an American former professional rodeo cowboy who competed in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events for more than two decades. He won the All-Around Cowboy world championship in 1983 and claimed seven individual discipline championships, including six tie-down roping titles. Cooper won the PRCA's Rookie of the Year award in 1976, and was nicknamed "Super Looper" for his roping ability.[2] The ProRodeo Hall of Fame inducted Cooper in its Tie-Down Roping category in 1979.

Early life[edit]

Cooper was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, and raised on a ranch.[2][3] He suffered from asthma in his youth, and hair from horses caused him allergies.[3] However, he began to practice roping when he was three to five years old, depending on the source.[3][4] Cooper stopped being affected by asthma prior to attending high school,[2] and he competed in American Junior Rodeo Association events, winning an award as "outstanding individual in 25 years" in 1977.[3] Two years earlier, he had won the calf roping title of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association; his father, Tuffy, won the organization's title in the discipline in 1950.[5] He went to Southeastern Oklahoma State University and was a journalism major.[4]

Rodeo career[edit]

In his rookie PRCA season, 1976, Cooper won the organization's tie-down roping championship and led the event in average earnings at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). He broke the record for the most prize money won by a rookie cowboy, and earned the PRCA's Rookie of the Year award. In 1977, Cooper was the third-leading earner at the NFR's roping event.[3] At the 1978 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, he led all cowboys in prize money won, and his calf-roping winnings were the largest recorded in any non-NFR event at the time.[6] After breaking one of his wrists the previous year,[7] Cooper won his second calf roping season championship in 1980, and had a third-place NFR average earnings finish in the discipline.[8] The following year, he earned his second straight season calf roping title. However, he narrowly lost out on the PRCA's All-Around Cowboy season championship to his cousin, Jimmie Cooper, who earned $47.60 more in prize money than he did during 1981.[9]

Cooper had almost $100,000 in earnings in 1981, and was approaching $400,000 in career earnings in 1982.[7] He won his third consecutive PRCA tie-down roping championship, and fourth overall, in 1982, rallying from a prize money deficit of nearly $15,000 at the season-ending NFR. A second-place finish in that event's tie-down roping competition was enough for him to pass Jerry Jetton, the previous leader. Cooper's total earnings for the year neared $100,000 again, and in the season-long All-Around Cowboy competition he placed fourth.[10] In 1983, Cooper won the All-Around Cowboy championship, National Finals Steer Roping (NFSR) title, and calf roping championship. This made him the first PRCA competitor since 1958 to win three discipline season championships,[11] and the fourth in PRCA history.[12] Cooper broke the record for yearly prize winnings with $153,390.84 in earnings,[11] and claimed all-around and tie-down roping average earnings titles at the NFR.[13] In calf roping, he set a season record in earnings with $122,455 for the year.[12]

After holding the lead in the All-Around Cowboy standings late in the NFR, Cooper ended up in second place for the year, behind Dee Pickett. He did manage to win his fifth straight calf roping season championship.[14] In steer roping, Cooper was unable to defend his 1983 championship title; he was in seventh place before a win in the discipline at the NFSR caused him to move up to fourth for the year.[15] In 1985, Cooper wound up second in calf roping for the season,[16] though he was the discipline's champion in the Winston Tour series.[17] He won the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo's all-around title in 1989,[18] and by September 1990 was the PRCA's all-time leading money winner with career earnings of more than $1.1 million. Cooper was in sixth place in the 1990 PRCA NFSR standings, before breaking his left wrist and suffering a concussion in an automobile accident.[19]

Cooper eventually returned to competition, but had another injury setback in 1993, when he pulled a groin and missed three months of rodeos. Later that year, he won all-around and steer roping championships at Cheyenne Frontier Days.[20] In 1994, he was out of action for much of the year after rotator cuff surgeries. He claimed a calf roping title at the 1995 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.[21] Later in the year he had the fastest average calf roping time at the NFR, which was later described as Cooper's "favorite moment" at the event.[22] Cooper finished second in the All-Around Cowboy standings in 1996.[23] That year, he led the NFSR in average earnings in steer roping; Cooper became the first cowboy to win four NFR average steer roping titles, a record that has since been surpassed by Guy Allen. It was the eighth NFR average title of his career and his ninth overall NFR championship, counting his 1983 all-around victory. As of 2016, he was second among cowboys in NFR titles, behind Trevor Brazile, and first with all-around championships excluded.[13] At a 2000 rodeo in Lovington, New Mexico, he surpassed $2 million in earnings; Cooper was the first to reach this mark in rodeo.[24] As of 2011, Cooper remained a part-time competitor in rodeo events.[25] By 2016, he had retired.[26]


Several members of Cooper's family have competed in rodeo events. His father Tuffy was a PRCA cowboy who was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1998; he taught roping to Roy when he was a child.[4][5] Cooper's sister, Betty Gayle, was a champion in cowgirl events and is in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. He also had a brother, Clay, who was a professional rodeo cowboy, as was his cousin Jimmie.[5][9] Cooper has three sons—Clif, Clint, and Tuf—who are cowboys. They all participated in the 2010 NFR's tie-down roping event, making it the first time three brothers had done so.[25] Tuf was the winner of the 2017 PRCA All-Around Cowboy title.[27] Cooper's stepdaughter, Shada, is married to Brazile, a 26-time PRCA world champion.[27][28]


Inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1979, Cooper was part of the Hall's inaugural class of enshrinees in the category of Tie-Down Roping.[2][22][29] For his skills in calf roping, he acquired the nickname of "Super Looper".[2] The ProRodeo Hall of Fame calls Cooper "one of the most dominant ropers in the history of the sport."[2] He was noted for his speed and quick hands, in addition to his rope-tossing ability. Calf roping champion Toots Mansfield said of Cooper that he had "perfected the art of roping and tying a calf about as far as it can be perfected."[3] Fellow cowboy Joe Beaver praised Cooper's consistency and ability to avoid errors and said, "At his prime, he had no competition."[27] Cooper and other members of his family have founded the Cooper Rodeo Foundation, which aids children and young adults in rodeo.[30]


  • 1976 PRCA Rookie of the Year award[3]
  • 1976, 1980–84 PRCA Tie-Down Roping Championship[31]
  • 1983 PRCA All Around Cowboy Championship[31]
  • 1983 PRCA NFSR Steer Roping Championship[31]



  1. ^ Everett, Dianna. "Cooper, Roy Dale (1955– )". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Roy Cooper". ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Morris, Kathryn (May 21, 1978). "Roy Cooper: He's A College Educated Rodeo Star". Lakeland Ledger. p. FW19. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Cooper is rookie of the year". Ellensburg Daily Record. September 2, 1977. p. B8. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Mahoney, Sylvia Gann; Hedeman, Tuff (2004). College Rodeo: From Show to Sport. Texas A&M University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-58544-331-4. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  6. ^ "All-around, it was Good: Cooper, however, was the star". The Calgary Herald. July 31, 1978. p. C7.
  7. ^ a b "World champs!: Many a cowboy title winner competes in Ellensburg rodeo". Ellensburg Daily Record. September 3, 1982. p. 11-A. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  8. ^ "Tierney top cowboy". Ellensburg Daily Record. December 15, 1980. p. 6. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Gay, Trujillo capture world rodeo crowns". The Courier. Associated Press. December 14, 1981. p. 14. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  10. ^ "Roy Cooper Wins Fourth Title". The Durant Daily Democrat. December 13, 1982. p. 1. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Cooper builds legend at NFR". Ellensburg Daily Record. United Press International. December 12, 1983. p. 11. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  12. ^ a b "World Champ Roy Cooper Faces New Challenges In The Future". The Durant Daily Democrat. December 25, 1983. p. 11. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Wrangler NFR (PDF). Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. 2016. p. 342. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "Pickett wins all-around title". Ellensburg Daily Record. United Press International. December 11, 1984. p. 10. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "Cooper looks ahead". Ellensburg Daily Record. August 30, 1985. p. 13-A. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  16. ^ Konotopetz, Gyle (December 16, 1985). "Champ may need a tin of polish". The Calgary Herald. p. C1. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  17. ^ "Rodeo tour finale slated in Spokane". Ellensburg Daily Record. November 20, 1985. p. 12. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  18. ^ "Frontier Days Rodeo marred by death". Ellensburg Daily Record. United Press International. July 31, 1989. p. 10. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  19. ^ "Top roper Roy Cooper out for rest of season". Ellensburg Daily Record. September 12, 1990. p. 11. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  20. ^ "Cooper Ropes $11,600 Paycheck". The Durant Daily Democrat. Associated Press. August 2, 1993. p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  21. ^ "West tops 'Bodacious' in Texas Stock Show". Ellensburg Daily Record. February 22, 1995. p. 9. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Wolf, Jeff (December 8, 2000). "National Finals Rodeo: Still A Super Looper". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on January 1, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  23. ^ "Bedell wrestles world title at National Finals Rodeo". The Deseret News. Associated Press. December 16, 1996. p. D5. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  24. ^ "Briefs". American Cowboy: 14. November–December 2000. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  25. ^ a b Whisler, John (February 9, 2011). "SuperCoopers". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  26. ^ Wachter, Paul (October 31, 2016). "Fred Whitfield and the Black Cowboys of Rodeo". The Undefeated. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c Sager, Mike (June 2018). "The First Family of Rodeo". Smithsonian. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  28. ^ "Trevor Brazile". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  29. ^ "Inductees". ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  30. ^ "Cooper Rodeo Foundation". Cooper Rodeo Foundation. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  31. ^ a b c "PRCA World Champions (Historical)". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  32. ^ "Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  33. ^ "Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductees". Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  34. ^ "Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame Inductees". Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  35. ^ "Roy Cooper". Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  36. ^ "Hall of Fame: Roy Cooper". Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  37. ^ "2009 Sports Hall of Fame Inductees". Lea County Museum. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  38. ^ "Past Inductees". Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  39. ^ "Roy "Super Looper" Cooper". Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  40. ^ "Roy Cooper (2014)". Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 10, 2017.