BILLINGS – Montana’s Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame is staring down a big rodeo weekend.
The group has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarship money to Montana high school rodeo kids. Its latest and largest fundraiser is Saturday night at the Red Lion Hotel.
One of Saturday’s featured guests is eight-time world champion bull rider Donnie Gay, who admired the work of bull fighter Loyd Ketchum. The Miles City cowboy will be one of this year’s inductees at Saturday’s Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame banquet.
“One of the best athletes of his time fighting bulls,” Gay told MTN Sports by phone from Fort Worth, Texas. “Back in those days we never really considered ourselves athletes, particularly, knowing you could do anything for eight seconds no matter what kind of shape you were in. But Lloyd Ketchum was a really good bull fighter and saved men. The condition that he had himself in, you just had to look at him in that arena going around one of those bulls. He was just better than everybody at that particular time in his heyday.”
Once while covering the National Finals Rodeo in the 1990s, I remember walking into the bull fighters’ room before one of the performances to interview Ketchum. As we turned the corner, we found him sitting on a bench, both legs swollen and bruised black and blue.
“Yes, you’re taking a pounding,” said Gay. “And what most of us think, at least in the group I was raised in, if you’re not confined to bed, you’re not really hurt.”