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John Rothwell

2019 Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee

October 20, 1948

John Rothwell was born October 20, 1948 to Ann and Robert Rothwell.  He and his 3 brothers and 1 sister were raised on the family ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills that was founded in 1888.

Don Tapley, his agriculture teacher in high school, mentored John his senior year.  After graduation, competition began and attendance at a Toots Mansfield roping school improved his skills.

John then went to college after high school first attending Kearney and the University of Nebraska.  In 1970, John started college at Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX.  He graduated with an Agriculture Business degree.  Two big influences were Sonny Sikes, his rodeo coach and L.N. Sikes.  John found the roping to be at a high level; placing only once in two years of competition.  He did make the team that qualified for the National Intercollegiate finals in 1971 with success in steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding.

John got his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card in 1972.  Realizing that your horse is the most important tool to being a successful calf roper, John bought his first good roping horse, Rabbit from Robert Blandford in 1974 leading to his first National Finals Rodeo qualification.  He would go on and qualify again in 1976, 1978 and1980 on Kirk, a horse he bought from Virgil Swanson that was trained by Sonny Little.  After Kirk it was 4 years before John found a replacement.  His next horse A.J. was trained and owned by his friend John Brown.  Leasing A.J., who was later named the 1985 PRCA calf roping horse of the year, helped carry John to the National Finals Rodeo again in 1985 and 1987.  In the 1987 NFR, A.J. was ridden by John and Les Cochran in all 10 rounds.

John was a 7-time qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo in calf roping.  During most of his professional career he resided in Texas but he always rode behind the Nebraska flag during the grand entry.  John was proud of where he came from and never wanted to forget where he came from.

John is 1 of only 3 ropers to compete in 3 different NFR Venues; The Oklahoma City Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, The Madrid in downtown OKC and the Thomas and Mack arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

John was a great competitor, horse trainer and roper.  But the kind of person he is, is what makes him a Hall of Fame person.  He is willing to help anyone at anytime.  John helps a lot of young people with horsemanship and roping today.  He will always have calves around not for himself but for anyone that would like to stop by and rope.  Tammy will run chute, John will give you advice.  He has a very good way with horses and people, a very fun and positive person to be around.  All he has accomplished you will never know it by talking to him, he would never brag on himself, but he was truly one of the best calf ropers and horse trainers in the world.

After 1987, John retired from full-time competition.  In 1999, John began leasing his family’s ranch from his parents.  In 2010, John married Tammy.  They spend their winters in Texas and come back to Nebraska to run cattle in the summer.

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