COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Rick Chatman, the 1984 World Champion Bullfighter and PRCA Clown of the Year, died of an apparent heart attack at his sister’s home in Arlington, Texas, on March 27, two weeks before his induction into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. He was 57.
A saddle bronc rider in high school, Chatman started his career in professional rodeo by working on saddles for M.L. Leddy during the week and fighting bulls at the Northside Coliseum in Fort Worth on the weekends, learning the technique that would make him one of the sport’s best.
In his nearly 30 years as a PRCA card holder (1979-2008), Chatman worked most of the sport’s biggest rodeos, including Denver, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Cheyenne, Wyo., often wearing a black and yellow shirt that earned him the nickname “Bumble Bee.”
He three times served as a bullfighter at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City (1980-81, 1984) and was twice an NFR alternate (1982, 1988).
In 1984, Chatman won seven of nine matches on the Wrangler Bullfighting Tour and won the world championship in the final round of four at the NFR when he got past Harry Vold’s Crooked Nose, the only fighting bull ever inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Chatman’s achievement of winning the World Bullfighting title, the PRCA Clown of the Year Award and working the NFR, all in the same year, has never been matched.
“I’ve always liked to do something everybody else won’t do,” Chatman said in an interview with the ProRodeo Sports News. “I like the gamble. Besides that, the bullfighter always took home a check.”
In a television interview (www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVHkjN0o5Xg), Chatman described bullfighting as “better than fun ever thought about being. If there’s a definition for fun, it’s what I do.”
A memorial service is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 6 in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Posse Arena at Cleburne, Texas, and everyone is welcome. For further information call 817.991.0156 or 817.991.3080.
He is survived by his two sons, Cassidy, of Burleson, Texas; and Chance, of Denton, Texas; his father, Buddy Chatman, and step-mother, LaDonna, of Lindale, Texas; sister, Dionne (Jerry) Kitchens of Arlington, Texas; and ex-wife, Sheila Chatman, of Burleson, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, 101 Pro Rodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.
Courtesy of PRCA