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Richard "Tuff" Hedeman

Men Contestant

Richard Neale “Tuff” Hedeman was born March 2, 1963 in El Paso, Texas, the youngest of Clarice and Red Hedeman’s seven children. The Hedemans were involved in the horse racing industry, and young Richard galloped racehorses before physically outgrowing and possibility of a career as a jockey. It was obvious at an early age that the cowboy life was his calling and his try and true grit were his trademarks from the start.

Young Tuff competed in every event there was. As a teenager, he was two-time New Mexico High School Rodeo Association all-around champion cowboy. At the national level, he was the 1981 National High School Rodeo Association reserve bull riding champ as a senior, second only to Lane Frost.

In college, Tuff helped his alma mater, Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, win National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association men’s national team championship in 1982-83. Tuff won the bull at the 1983 College National Finals, and joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association that same year. In 1984, he qualified for his first of 12 Wrangler National Finals Rodeos.

Tuff won three PRCA world bull riding championships in 1986, 1989 and 1991. In 1986, Lane won the NFR average when Tuff won his first world title. A year later, when Lane won his 1987 gold buckle, they traded places with Tuff winning the NFR average. Lane died in the arena, at 25 years old, at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo. A few short months later, Tuff rode his last NFR bull eight seconds for the world championship and another eight for Lane.

By 1993, Tuff had cleared the $1 million career earnings milestone and was an iconic figure in the sport. He suffered a serious neck injury at the 1993 NFR that kept him out of competition the following year. He returned to win the Professional Bull Riders world title.

Tuff was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1998, he suffered a career-ending neck injury. His bull riding days were behind him, but Tuff continues to compete-and win-as a team roper. Tuff has two sons, Lane and Trevor. Tuff continues to carry the torch as the greatest ambassador the sport has ever known. From the helm of Championship Bull Riders he is still the last guy out there signing autographs at every event he attends.