JOHN W JONES, JR
Inducted in 2015
Steer Wrestling is a big man’s sport, requiring the strength and weight and agility to grab a running 600-pound steer by the neck and wrestle it to the ground using its horns and nose as leverage. Kendra Santos, in an article celebrating the Salinas and Pendleton rodeo centennials and John W. Jones Jr’s dominance at both, wrote “many consider [Jones, Jr.] the most technically correct bulldogger of all time, in part because he had to overcome a considerable size deficit.” When he was on the rodeo circuit he weighed 185 pounds, which is small by today’s standards.
In 1980, Jones bought his Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) permit, and in 1981 was named Rookie of the Year. According to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame notes about him, he ultimately qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) ten times, won three world bulldogging titles (‘84, ‘87-88), won the NFR aggregate in 1988, and twice qualified for the NFR in tie-down roping. He won the buckle in Steer Wrestling at Salinas, CA, four times, and he won it twice at Pendleton.
In Ellensburg, Jones Jr. was all-around champion in 1983, won the steer wrestling in 1984, and tied for first in 1987. He said, “Ellensburg has been one of my favorite rodeos. The Rodeo Committee always made us feel welcome and produced a top notch rodeo, had the best cattle, and had the best arena conditions for an equal chance for all contestants.”
As the “Jr.” implies, there is a “Sr.,” and he had as much success as his son. John Jones, Sr. won the NFR’s aggregate title three years in row and, later, a fourth time. He also was a Rookie of the year in 1956. This Jones duo was the first father and son to both win the Rookie of the Year and a world championship. They are both in the PRCA Hall of Fame. Ken MacRae, a local inductee into the Ellensburg Hall of Fame, said of John W. Jones, Jr., “He was an outstanding steer wrestler. He patterned his style after his father’s…and that was keeping the steer’s head rather low as he shaped him before reaching for his nose. John W. Jones, Sr. and Jr were both quiet, reserved gentlemen.”
In the Salinas Rodeo Hall of Fame notes, it says John Sr. “may have won more world championships but he didn’t like to travel and didn’t seriously pursue gold buckles.” This modesty and humility seems to be a family trait. Santos remarks that “they’re the most genuine, family-oriented folks ever.”
John W. Jones, Jr.’s family lives and ranches in California. His son-in-law, Bear Pascoe, has a Superbowl ring from his days of playing with the New York Giants and now plays for Chicago. At 6’ 5” and 285 pounds, he’s a little more like the size that Santos envisioned as an ideal steer wrestler. When asked what he’d like to do after football, Pascoe said “I’d like to get back to California and ranching. I’d love to give rodeo a try, steer wrestling, and team roping. My father-in-law Johnny Jones is a legend and my dad steer wrestled, team roped, and roped calves as well, and has always been my hero.” Although he definitely has the size for a great steer wrestler and the athletic ability, Pascoe has large shoes to try to fill.