After the war, the merged CTA and RAA became the PRCA and took complete control of the sport. Men like Austin, Johnson and Autry could no longer exercise the power they had previously held. As a result, the Madison Square Garden rodeo lost its luster, and the PRCA established the NFR, to determine, over the next half century, who the real world champion cowboys were.
In forming their organization, cowboys were decades ahead of athletes in other professional sports. In 1953, the first year for which this information is available, the total prize money available at the PRCA rodeos was $ 9,491,856. Thirty years later, the number had risen to just over $ 13 million. As the prize money increased, of course, so did individual winnings.
In 1976, Tom Ferguson, competing in the four scheduled events, became the first cowboy to exceed $ 100,000 in a single year. Just six years later, that number was exceeded by a single event participant. The cowboy, Bruce Ford, accumulated $ 101,351 before the NFR.
In 2006, all competitors who participated in NFR as leaders in their events had won at least US $ 100,000, except for the team members, who had just over US $ 90,000. When NFR started in 1959, the total grant was $ 50,000. Today, the figure is $ 5,375,000.
However, the PRCA benefited mainly white men, as the various groups that had already competed at the rodeo were largely absent from the arena. Native Americans now have their own rodeo organization and have shown little interest in PRCA activities.
The records give no indication of institutional racism on the part of the PRCA. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that individual rodeo committees sometimes discriminated against African Americans and Hispanics in the 1950s and 1960s. However, black and Hispanic cowboys won the PRCA world championship, with Leo Camarillo winning the team title five times and participating fifteen consecutive times in the NFR.
The women realized that it would be up to them to return to the highlight of the sport. After a successful cowgirl rodeo, many of the participants came together in 1948 to form what is now WPRA. However, the organization aimed to provide women with the opportunity to compete in legitimate and sanctioned contests in PRCA rodeos and in bonding events and events in women’s rodeos.
Although the Women’s Rodeo Cash Prize never provided enough money for participants to cover expenses, WPRA was very successful in restoring cowgirl contests for PRCA rodeos. So the drum race was the most popular WPRA contest and spread quickly across the country. Soon, in 1955, PRCA President Bill Linderman and WPRA President Jackie Worthington signed a historic agreement that remained in effect for half a century. For he urged the inclusion of WPRA drum races in the PRCA rodeos and demanded that women’s events at the PRCA rodeos comply with WPRA rules and regulations. After a long campaign, drum racing was added to the NFR in 1968.
Although the drum race was at the NFR, the cowgirls ‘cash prize was well below the cowboys’ value. The gender equity movement prompted the WPRA in 1980 to send an ultimatum to 650 rodeo committees across the country. If the prizes were not equal in 1985, WPRA would not participate. There was almost universal compliance, except for NFR. At the 1997 NFR, cowboys and cowgirls led by cowboy Matt Tyler threatened to attack unless they received the same cash prize. This cooperative effort resulted in successful negotiations. Since 1998, NFR has paid the same for all participants. The additional funding comes from the sale of special luxury seats.
In 1923, Tex Austin hired the New Yankee Stadium for 10 days and intended to offer $ 50,000 in cash, double what was offered at the previous Madison Square Garden rodeo the previous year. Tickets for the event were between $ 2 and 3. Tex Austin planned to pay cowboys 100 cents. The events offered were riding, bulldogging, lasso, horseback riding, relay race, among others. Famous horses: Mystery, Nose Dive, PJ Nutt and Peaceful Henry were in the contest the year before. Cowboys included Mike Hastings, Mabel Strickland, Roy Quick, Ike Rude, Powder River Thompson and Bonnie McCarroll and Bonnie Gray, as well as many others.