All-Around • Inducted 2009
One of the best all-around hands from the first half of the 20th century, Leonard Ward had his greatest year in 1934 when he won the saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and all-around world championships, becoming the first cowboy to achieve a Triple Crown by winning three gold buckles in the same year. Ward won 16 rodeos that year, in bronc riding, steer decorating, bull riding and bareback riding. He continued to compete at a high level until he suffered a badly broken leg at the 1937 California Rodeo Salinas that put him in the hospital for six months and in rehab for another six. Ward left the sport for good at age 38 in 1941 to take a construction job in the North Pacific Ocean, first on Midway Island and then on Wake Island, where he was captured by the Japanese on Dec. 23, 1941 and held prisoner for 45 months, doing forced labor on Wake Island and in Japan. After his release, Ward returned to construction work and ranching in Oregon – he operated a dude ranch in Talent, Ore., where John F. Kennedy stayed during the 1960 presidential campaign – until his death in 1985.
World Championships: 3
Bareback Riding: 1934
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1934
Born: August 21, 1903 in Chehalis, Washington
Died: February 15, 1985 in Dufur, Oregon