All Inductees

Myrtis Dightman

Men Contestant

Myrtis Dightman, often hailed as “the Jackie Robinson of Rodeo,” made history as the first African American cowboy to compete in the National Finals Rodeo. For a long time, he was the sole black competitor in rodeo, yet he earned widespread respect from his peers for his outstanding skills.

Born in 1935 in Crockett, Texas, Dightman broke into the rodeo scene in 1961, initially working as a bullfighter and clown before moving into competitive events. He quickly made a name for himself, first excelling in bronc riding and steer wrestling. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, he had shifted his focus to bull riding, achieving national rankings of 4th in 1968, 15th in 1969, 13th in 1970, and 7th in 1972.

Though now retired from the competitive circuit, Dightman continued to make an impact in the rodeo world into the early 1990s, winning the Old Timers Championship four years in a row. He resides in Houston and Crockett, Texas, dedicating his time to working with young people and mentoring upcoming African American rodeo talents. His legacy in the sport is carried on by his son, Myrtis Dightman, Jr., who has also pursued a career in professional rodeo competition.