Inducted in 2006
Although he gained fame as a saddle bronc rider, Marty Wood’s original burning ambition was to play professional baseball. When a shoulder injury diverted his attention from the baseball diamond, the youngster turned next on bareback bronc and bull riding. Indeed, it was not until he had rodeoed a year or two that Marty Wood focused exclusively on becoming one of professional rodeo’s all-time great saddle bronc riders.
Martin “Marty” Roy Wood was born May 4, 1933, in tiny Bowness, Alberta, Canada. His family ranched, and raised and trained jumping horses. Thus Marty developed much of his horse savvy, balance, and technique riding his dad’s jumping horses. His first professional rodeo competition came when he crossed the international border and entered the 1953 Malta (MT) Rodeo. Later that same year, he won the Saddle Bronc Championship in Omaha. Marty Wood was on his way to a twenty-one year career in professional rodeo.
Rodeo historian Fred Schnell stated in his book, The Suicide Circuit (1971) that Marty Wood’s “friends are many, but they admit he is a tough man to know.” Marty’s friend Arland Calvert, a ProRodeo Sports News writer, concurred, describing Wood the “dark, handsome Canadian” as a “dedicated loner” who “picks his own company.”
Calvert also described Wood’s famed bronc riding technique: “Marty’s slashing style—nobody reaches out front [in spurring] any farther or uses the full spread with more vigor—has been compared to the late Pete Knight by many old-timers.” Knight, a famed 1930s Alberta bronc rider, is also an ERHOF Inductee.
Marty Wood qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) fourteen times and won three World Saddle Bronc Championships (’58, ’64, ’66). He was Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Saddle Bronc runner-up four times and won the Canadian Saddle Bronc championship three times. Among his many event and all-around championships were multiple victories at the Calgary, Cheyenne, Madison Square Garden, San Francisco Cow Palace, Fort Worth, Houston, Salinas, Boston Garden, and Oklahoma City rodeos.
In Ellensburg, Marty Wood was a dominant force for a decade. Following the heyday of ERHOF bronc riding Inductees Casey Tibbs and Deb Copenhaver, Wood won a great deal of day money and averages in Ellensburg. He won ‘the Saddles’ outright three times (’57, ’58, and ’67), placing him among the Ellensburg Rodeo’s greatest bronc riding competitors.
At the peak of his career, Marty Wood began to diversify his professional endeavors, exhibiting a business sense that equaled his bronc riding skills. He trained horses and became a pioneer in organizing, marketing, and teaching “bronc riding school.” Wood ran his school in partnership with ERHOF Inductee stock contractor Harry Vold on Vold’s famed Fowler, Colorado ranch. According to a 1971 Western Horseman article, Marty’s teaching style included everything “but riding side saddle” with his students!
Marty Wood competed and won consistently for two decades, evincing impressive longevity in the brutal roughstock game. It was only because of severe injuries that Wood retired in 1974. Throughout the 1953-1973 period he suffered through seven broken legs, three fractures of each of his feet and ankles, plus broken ribs and a broken collarbone. A multiple break in 1974 proved to be the last straw.
In the three decades since his retirement Wood has divided his time between the Pacific Northwest and Southwest, training quarter and thoroughbred horses for jumping and racing. He loves carpentry and fishing for trout in his old Alberta and British Columbia haunts.
Marty Wood now adds membership in the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame to an impressive resume, which includes induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (‘92), Canadian Hall of Fame for Rodeo (’93), and Alberta Hall of Fame for Sports (’94).