All-Around • Inducted 2017
Austin “Buck” Rutherford hailed from the small northeast Oklahoma town of Lenapah. Rutherford lived as he rode – with fearless abandon.
Competing in bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling as a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association, Rutherford was described by fellow all-around cowboy Bill Linderman as “one of the most natural athletes that ever stuck a paw in a rigging or bull rope.”
After placing second in the world in the all-around in 1952, his destiny was soon altered. A devastating car accident in November of the same year left Rutherford in a coma with skull fractures.
Despite months of hospitalization, and doctors advising him to quit rodeo altogether, Rutherford returned for the 1954 season, miraculously winning the all-around title while becoming the first cowboy to eclipse $40,000 in cash and prizes in a single year. He edged out fellow ProRodeo Hall of Famer Jim Shoulders by $440 to win the gold buckle.
That year, his $14,976 in bareback riding was good for second-most in the world, and his $14,139 in bull riding earnings was third-best among RCA cowboys.
Though Rutherford never notched an individual event title, he finished Top 5 in the world standings 11 times between 1949-57 in bull riding and steer wrestling.
World Championships: 1
Born: September 24, 1929 in Lenapah, Oklahoma
Died: April 28, 1988 in Tulsa, Oklahoma