Decatur - Being a rodeo cowboy is more than sport, its a way of life. One that comes naturally for Weatherford's Tuf Cooper.
Tuf's father Roy Cooper is an 8-time world champion. At his ranch in Decatur, a trophy room filled with dozens of saddles, belt buckles, and other trophies serves as a shrine to the elder Cooper's hall of fame career.
Ever since he was old enough to throw a rope, Tuf has been putting in work to follow in his father's larger-than-life footsteps.
He turned professional at 18-years old, and now participates in more than 100 events each year. This week he's preparing to compete again in one of his favorite events, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
"It's the closest and biggest event to where I lay my head," said the younger Cooper, "it's so much fun to compete in front of family and friends."
When he's not on the road Tuf, who turns 28 at the end of January, practices in Decatur. That's where Tuf's father and fellow rodeo legend Trevor Brazile have created a breeding ground for champions.
Brazile, who owns 23 world-championships, including a record 13 All-Around titles, lives a stone's throw from Roy. They've fashioned indoor and outdoor arenas, perfect for practicing team and individual roping and other rodeo events.
Tuf and Brazile, who still competes, often practice side-by-side, "We're helping each other out today but tomorrow when we're competing I want them to win second," said the younger Cooper.
Tuf is second to none in the rodeo world these days. In December he edged out Brazile for the All Around World Champion Cowboy title. It was Cooper's fourth world title, but the one providing the most validation.
"Winning the All-Around it was amazing. It's the MVP of the Super Bowl," said Cooper. "All-Around World Champion Cowboy. It says Cowboy on the buckle. I wear a Cowboys hat! I grew up as a Cowboy! I've got a buckle that says Cowboys on it. Now, I'm a real Cowboy."
Adding further prove that rodeo is his life, in Tuf's acceptance speech after winning the All-Around title, he dropped to a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Tiffany. It was a memorable moment in a career that will no doubt be filled with many more.
She said yes, by the way, and is by his side when they're on to the next rodeo.
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