“I’d rather be in jail in Oklahoma than free anywhere else.”
'Mr. American Cowboy” and Oklahoma native Jim Shoulders graduated from Tulsa East Central High School and scored his first national win in 1947 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Within two years, he had finished fifth in bull riding and only a year later was named World Champion All-Around Cowboy. By 1960, Shoulders had earned more than $400,000 riding bulls and bareback broncs and was characterized in a Reader’s Digest article as a “businessman on a bull.” He was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1955, the only professional cowboy honored in the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. Shoulders represented the rodeo cowboy in the Kentucky Horse Park Museum and in the exhibition of the American Cowboy at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
In a 1960 Houston Rodeo, Jim Shoulders was “having a sensational ride” on a Brahma bull when he suffered 17 fractures to his face after being hit by the bull’s horns. In the hospital, Shoulders protested, “But Doc, can’t you put off the operatin’ until after I ride tomorrow?”
Shoulders was born and raised near Tulsa, Oklahoma.