Inducted in 2005
When rodeo champion Joe Alexander was asked in a 1974 Western Horseman interview to describe his “ideal” bucking bronc, he answered without hesitation: “This horse needs to be an Outlaw…His disposition as an Outlaw is something you can’t take out of him by day to day competition and hauling. He should have the heart to buck and keep bucking day in and day out.”
Joe Alexander—“Alexander the Great” as 70s-era rodeo journalists dubbed him—knows the traits of a world-class bucking horse well, for he won the World Championship in Bareback Bronc Riding a record five times.
Born on November 4, 1943, Joe Alexander grew up on his family’s isolated 10,000-acre cattle ranch near Cora, 60 miles from Jackson, Wyoming. As youths, Joe and his brother rode horseback to their school bus stop. They would tether their mounts, attend school, and ride home carrying the day’s mail to their distant ranch house. At seventeen, Joe rode his first bucking horse in a ranch meadow and he never looked back. He excelled in high school rodeo, riding broncs and bulls, wrestling steers, and honing his team-roping skills. In 1964, he left Cora for Casper (WYO) College, where he won the Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Bareback Riding Championship. This 5’ 8” 155-pound cowboy soon joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). He later graduated from the University of Wyoming (Laramie), with a B.S. in Animal Husbandry.
Joe hit the rodeo trail in earnest in 1970 and achieved immediate success on the PRCA circuit. Describing his career at that time he told Western Horseman, “I really like to get going from June on. I like to get on a bareback bronc every day if possible. I’ve found I ride better and feel better when I do.” This strategy combined with his physical prowess and professional savvy to earn Joe the PRCA record of five World Bareback Bronc Riding Championships from 1971-75. Equally impressive is his record of 13 years qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo. Throughout his dominance in roughstock competition, Alexander supplemented his earnings on the “other side” of the arena, consistently placing in the team roping event. In the 1980s, at 40 years of age and a decade after his rise in the sport, Joe Alexander was still riding bareback broncs. He is a 1979 Inductee to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
Joe Alexander remembers the Ellensburg Rodeo as an important stop on his road to five world championships. Joe cut a wide swath through the 1970s Ellensburg Rodeo arena, continually winning day money, averages, and the Ellensburg Bareback Bronc titles in 1972, ’75, and ’78. From those days, he remembers contractor Harry Vold’s (ERHOF 2000) rank bronc Neck Lace (ERHOF Inductee 2000) as “one of the four toughest broncs I’ve ever been on.” ERHOF Board member and former arena director Ken MacRae notes “I remember Joe as toughest bareback rider going in those years and his record proves it.”
Today, Joe Alexander lives in Marysville, California, with his wife Cindy, a former rodeo queen (Miss Winston) and 1973 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Team Roping World Champion. Together, they raise quarter horses and take life a lot easier than they did during their 1970s “glory days.” Alexander told ERHOF that he is humbled by his selection.