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KENNY STANTON

Inducted in 2000

Kenny StantonKenny Stanton was one of the world’s finest rough stock (bareback and saddle bronc and bullriding) riders. Fifty-nine year old Stanton, of Battle Mountain, Nevada, was honored by the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame at its 2000 induction banquet. “He was selected by our committee not only for his outstanding success at Ellensburg’s Rodeo, but because of his tremendous riding record while facing major physical challenges,” Mike Allen, Hall of Fame board president and founder, said. Stanton won the all-around buckle in Ellensburg in both 1963 and l965, and went away with a bareback title in ’63 and bull riding championship in 1976. He recently recalled his winning bull ride in the Ellensburg area in 1976. “It was a two head contest and in the second (go-round) I drew a (Harry) Vold bull. It was small, yellow but I don’t remember its number. It (the win) was especially important for me because I had had injuries a while back.” Actually, his career had ended at age 28 due to injury. He only ventured back in ’76 to some area rodeos. He also won Pendleton’s bull riding that year. Ken Stanton’s career was cut short due to the problems with his feet which resulted in amputation procedures. He said the problems stemmed from an incident when he was a deputy sheriff in Weiser, Idaho. “I was called out to an accident late one night and answered the call wearing cowboy boots and a light jacket. The 17-vehicle pileup was in 18 below (zero) weather. I wasn’t back until 10 hours later and had frozen my feet.” Born in 1941 in The Dalles, Ore., he moved with his family to Sisters, Ore. He was offered full wrestling scholarship to both Oregon and Oregon State after becoming a two-time high school state champion. He was a runner-up his sophomore year. But instead of college he opted for rodeo, a love he and his brother Bill had from riding “dad’s calves down in our field.” The Stanton duo traveled together on the west coast circuit. “I only went to about 50 rodeos a year compared to 100 or more by the fellas atop the standings,” he said. The wiry, 145-pound, two-event man was a flashy newcomer when he began his pro stints, barely past the voting age, and after only a couple of years he was an established pro. In all, he qualified for the national finals in two events six times and three additional years in the bull riding. According to published reports, Jim Shoulders, who holds pro rodeo’s record for combined world titles–16–was asked to list the top five bareback bronc riders and the top five bull riders in the nation. The name Kenny Stanton was the only one on both lists. Asked why Stanton never won a world title, Shoulders gave two reasons: Ken didn’t travel to enough rodeos during a season and he didn’t have the luck of the draw with him as much as some other cowboys. Even with bad luck, Stanton’s balance, grit and competitiveness earned him top dollars at major west coast and regional rodeos. He finished 11th in the world standings in the 1961 bareback event and 11th again in the 1963 all-around with 6th place finish in bull riding and 13th in bareback). He was 9th in 1964 all-around (4th in bull riding), 5th in 1965 all-around (10th in bareback, 3rd in bull riding), 6th in ’66 all-around (6th in bareback, 5th in bulls), among his many notable feats. He recalled his brother Bill had a good rodeo career, too, and went into the National Finals bull riding standings in 1967 “behind Larry Mahan by about $300…” and “finished second about $2,000 back” after a tough luck draw. Today, Kenny rides “a truck about the size of a double-wide (manufactured home) working for a gold mine near here,” he says. Near here is “halfway between Winnemucca and Elko.”