|Born||May 13, 1928|
|Died||June 20, 2007 (aged 79)|
|Residence||Henryetta, Okmulgee County,
|Occupation||Rodeo star; Rancher|
|Spouse(s)||Sharon (married 1947-2007)|
James A. “Jim” Shoulders (May 13, 1928 – June 20, 2007) was an American professional rodeo cowboy and rancher. He is commemorated at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and at the time of his death, was the most successful contestant in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Known as the ‘Babe Ruth of rodeo’, Shoulders was a spokesperson for a number of commercial products such as Miller Lite, Justin Boots and Wrangler Jeans. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and died in Henryetta, Oklahoma. He was of English descent.
Shoulders won his first bull riding competition in Oilton, Oklahoma at the age of fourteen. He competed until his retirement due to injury at the age of forty-two. His success at competitions included:
- PRCA world championships. (Five ‘World all-around rodeo champion cowboy’ awards, 1949, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959).
- Bull rider awards. (1951 and 1954 to 1959).
- Bareback rider awards. (1950 and 1956 to 1958).
Shoulders was the first competitor to win all three events (bareback, bull riding and all-round) at the PRCA world championships.
From his rodeo career earnings, Shoulders bought a 400-acre (1.6 km2) ranch in Oklahoma where he raised livestock. He produced “Tornado”, a rodeo bull who threw 200 riders over 14 years. In 1967, Freckles Brown rode Tornado. On the basis of his rodeo success, Shoulders took work in advertising. His manager was Billy Martin, a former New York Yankees manager. He made advertisements for products such as Miller Lite beer, jeans (helping to design the Wrangler Jeans 13MWZ ‘cowboy cut’ jeans); and Justin boots.
Shoulders is honored in four rodeo halls of fame including Madison Square Garden in New York City, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, the Texas Trail Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In 2007, Jim was awarded the Legends of ProRodeo by the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Shoulders was an early participant in the American Cowboy Culture Association, which holds the annual National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration each September in Lubbock, Texas. In 2011, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) created the Heroes and Legends Celebrations, which consists of 4 awards. One of the awards is the Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award, named for perhaps the greatest rodeo athlete of all time. In 2015, Jim was inducted for bull riding into the Class of 2015 Bull Riding Hall of Fame, which is the inaugural class.
In 1947, Shoulders married Sharon and they had four children. Shoulders’ son, Marvin Paul Shoulders, has also competed professionally in rodeo sports.
- “Top Rodeo Cowboy Dies”. Fox News. 20 June 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Staff, From Times; Reports, Wire (21 June 2007). “Jim Shoulders, 79; the ‘Babe Ruth of rodeo’ also starred in beer ads”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- “Pro Rodeo”. www.infoplease.com. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- “Legendary Rodeo Champion Jim Shoulders, 79”. The Washington Post. 21 June 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- “Jim Shoulders – Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame”. Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- “Jim Shoulders”. Western Heritage from the Texas Trail of Fame. 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- “Legends of ProRodeo – Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame”. Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- “National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, Inc. (Lubbock, Texas)”. cowboy.org. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- “Professional Bull Riders – Jim Shoulders Award”. Professional Bull Riders. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- “The Bull Riding Hall of Fame Inductions 2015”. The Bull Riding Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 February 2017.