Abe Morris (1956- )

 Abe Morris
Image Courtesy of Abe Morris

Abe Morris can stake his claim in rodeo history as a former champion bull rider. Morris is a 1980 graduate of the University of Wyoming (UW) with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He spent nearly 25 years riding bulls on the college and professional rodeo circuit until an injury in August 1994 ended his career. However, Morris kept his hat in the arena writing a monthly column for Humps N' Horns Bull Riding News, serving nine years as a broadcast commentator for Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days for Prime Sports and Fox Sports Network, and publishing in 2005 My Cowboy Hat Still Fits: My Life as a Rodeo Star, which chronicles his days as a black professional rodeo cowboy.

The sport of bull riding dates back to the days of Bill Pickett in the early 20th Century, who was one of the first professional African American rodeo stars.  Morris was one of a handful of African American bull riders active in the sport in the last decades of the 20th Century.  

Morris’ history begins not in the West but in Woodstown, New Jersey, in 1964 when at age eight he began roping calves at the Cowtown Rodeo. He moved west to attend the University of Wyoming on athletic and rodeo scholarships. Morris competed for the University of Wyoming as a bull rider on the university’s championship rodeo team and was a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

A highlight of Morris’ career was winning the bull riding title in the 1978 Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo held at the University of Wyoming Fieldhouse.  Morris competed for several years in the Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo and Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo as a member of  the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA).  He is the first African American to hold an announcer’s card with the PRCA, a certification that allows him to announce PRCA approved rodeos. Morris, who can still be seen behind the bucking chutes and in the stands at rodeo events, is a licensed and registered representative in financial services with Core Financial Services.  He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Source:

Abe Morris papers 1980-2004, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming; Abe Morris, My Cowboy Hat Still Fits: My Life as a Rodeo Star (Greybull, Wyoming: Pronghorn Press, 2005); Roger D. Hardaway, African American Cowboys on the Western Frontier, Negro History Bulletin, 64 (2001), pp. 27-32; Former UW bull rider to share life-experiences Friday at AHC, Accessed July 16, 2007 at http://www.uwyo.edu/alt/showrelease.asp?id=459.