By: Justin Felisko
March 29, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – PBR co-founder and 2003 Ring of Honor inductee Cody Custer picked up his cell phone on Tuesday and was surprised to hear his good friend, and 1991 World Champion bareback rider, Clint Corey on the other end of the phone.
Custer figured Corey was thinking about putting on a rodeo and bull riding school in August when Corey asked if Custer was free in August.
Low and behold, Custer will be unavailable for any bull riding school on Aug. 5.
25 years after winning the 1992 PRCA bull riding championship, Custer is being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame as a member of the 2017 induction class.
“I didn’t really have a whole lot of words,” Custer said when he realized what Corey, a 2004 Hall of Fame inductee, was calling about. “I was a little emotional. My world title and all that stuff is stuff I worked for. This is different. This is recognition from peers and stuff. It means a lot.”
Custer will be inducted alongside 11-time PRCA Announcer of the Year Randy Corley, the late 1954 All-Around champion Buck Rutherford, 1960 Saddle Bronc Riding champion Enoch Walker, 1974 Steer Wrestling champion Tommy Puryear, 1984 Team Roping champion Mike Beers and 22-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in three events Bob Ragsdale.
Also voted in by the selection committee were four-time bareback horse of the year, Christensen Bros.’ Smith & Velvet, and the committee for the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days.
“This is a big deal,” Custer said. “Guys that were my heroes and stuff like that. There are some people in that hall I never met, but I knew their names. I respect the history of the sport. At this point, it is just icing on the cake. It isn’t something I didn’t even expect.”
Custer first joined the PRCA in 1985 and went on to qualify for the NFR from 1987-92, and again in 1998-99.
The now 51-year-old won the PRCA title in 1992, the same year in which he joined 19 other cowboys in investing $1,000 to form the PBR.
“Winning the world title in 1992 is what you are going for and working for,” Custer said. “When I talk to those kids today, it is about that mentality. I always had that goal in the back of the mind, but I had to be told if I changed my focus I could be a World Champion. My mindset changed in about 1990 and started doing things different and thinking different.”
Custer, who still serves as a chute boss at select PBR events, famously rode Red Wolf for 95.5 points at the 1998 PBR World Finals.
1998 was the first of two consecutive years in which he qualified for both the World Finals and the NFR.
“When we went off to start the PBR we were all still rodeoing,” Custer said. “We were all committed to the sport. Bull riding happen to be the one that could stand by itself.
“Bottom-line is it is still a competition between animal and man. I respect the whole sport.”
Long before Custer was competing alongside legends of the sport such as nine-time World Champion Ty Murray, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert, Jim Sharp and Tuff Hedeman, the Flagstaff, Arizona, native was a 9-year-old boy burying his head inside the ProRodeo Sports News learning about previous legendary cowboys.
“It is just a different world now,” Custer said. “You have all of the cell phones. We didn’t have that. I just read pages and pages of the Sports News. I knew everything about those guys.”
Custer made sure to call his parents and his wife, Stacey, on Tuesday immediately once he received the news.
“They sacrificed a lot for us as kids to take us to rodeos and allow us to do things,” Custer said. “They got the car repoed one time because we went to a junior rodeo one time. I don’t advise doing that, but that is the kind of people they are. I have to give them some credit. On the other side, my wife never questioned why I did what I did. Even me getting on that bull two years ago at Unfinished Business.
“Then there are guys that have helped me with my riding. I don’t know. There are so many people. There is no way to nail it down to one person or group of people to thank.”
It may have been a long time coming for Custer, but to be inducted many years later brings with it a lot of exciting circumstances.
Custer’s son, Brett, just purchased his PRCA permit this year and is an aspiring bull rider with PBR goals for his future.
This year is also the 10-year anniversary of when Cody’s eldest son, Aaron, and nephew Marty Custer nominated him for the hall in 2007.
“It probably holds a little more prestige in my heart,” Cody said. “I am just in a different place in my life 10 years later.”
If that isn’t enough, Custer also holds a special affection for Smith & Velvet, the bareback horse being inducted with him this year.
Custer’s father worked for the Christensen Brothers when the Custers’ moved to Oregon for three years in 1977.
Cody was a multiple discipline rodeo athlete, including a talented bareback rider, before focusing primarily on bull riding.
“My aspirations to be bareback rider was more than any other event,” Custer said. “It is pretty cool to be inducted at the same time as that horse. It is something special.”
In 1980, Custer remembers spending three weeks traveling the rodeo trail with Jack Ward and T.J. Walter as a curious teenager with rodeo dreams.
“I realized that this is what I wanted to do,” Custer said. “I haven’t quit driving since.”
He may decide to fly to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the induction ceremony, but Custer’s rodeo career has reached a penultimate stop.
“It is 25 years after I won the world,” Custer humbly concluded. “That is pretty cool. It is a deal that has been a long time since I was really a competitor in the PRCA. I am really thankful to the committee. I will thank them at the induction.
“It is a really cool deal.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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