All Inductees

Wright Howington

Bull Fighter

In early 1956, a 16-year-old kid sat in the alleyway at the Fort Worth Stock Show and got the address to order some baggy pants and clown shirts. Later that year, that same kid stood at the Keller, Texas, rodeo one night on crutches with a football knee injury. He was always at rodeos having roped calves since he was 14. Hearing the bullfighter was hurt and wasn’t going to be there, he headed for his truck, put his crutches down, and wrapped his knee up as tight as he could. Forcing himself to walk as normal as possible, he asked the rodeo committee if they needed a bullfighter. When asked if he had ever fought bulls before, he said yes. The next week he fought his first bull and didn’t take his first hooking until the end of the year. Thus began the 39-year rodeo career of Wright Howington.

After three years as an amateur bullfighter/clown, Wright joined the RCA in 1959 at age 19. He strived to be wild like Buddy Heaton, jump like Jr. Meek, quick like Bobby Clark, and funny like Chuck Henson. George Doak coached him along. In 1970 and ’71 he worked the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo. In 1970, Wright was the barrelman at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. He was the first clown to have an aluminum barrel at the NFR. Not content to just fight bulls, he rode bulls, bulldogged, rode saddle broncs, roped calves, clowned, put on acts, and even judged, sometimes all at the same rodeo. But, his love was bullfighting and clowning.

Entertaining crowds and danger were Wright’s passion. His acts included Lots of Dots and Chuckwagon West; Dalmatian dog acts; Tornado, a miniature bull; Ginger from SMU (Stubborn Mule University); and Buck the Wonder Horse, a Shetland pony who followed him down the road for 28 years.

Wright lived to rodeo and came “alive” each time he walked into the arena. After spending 39 years of his life in a pickup truck pulling a stock trailer through 39 states and three Canadian provinces, he would still rodeo today if he could. A few of his rodeos included Texas rodeos such as Pecos, Fort Worth Stock Show, Lubbock, Waco, San Antonio, Mercedes, Bay City, Cleburne, Weatherford, Wichita Falls, Killeen, Huntsville, Denton, Belton, and Mesquite. He also worked the Salt Palace, Memphis, Tenn., Pendleton, Ore., Columbus, Ohio, Baton Rouge, La., Kissimmee, Fla., Kamloops BC, Cody, Wyo., Walla Walla, Wash., and Red Lodge, Mont.

Wright also promoted rodeo on radio, television, in movies, local newspapers, and schools. In 1961, he worked in the television series, Route 66, as a stunt double bullfighter for actor Albert Salmi. He worked at the Texas State Special Olympics and clowned the Texas Muscular Dystrophy Rodeo in Fort Worth.

He still loves sharing rodeo with kids, passing on his love for the sport and the life. In 1994, he worked his last PRCA rodeo in the same arena he began his professional rodeo career, the Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards. He was known as “The Old Man of Rodeo.” He was honored with a buckle from the rodeo for his career achievements. Today, Wright and his wife Terry have the Bar-W-Ranch in Sunset, Texas.