Hugh “Rooster” Chambliss covered a lot of ground in the arena. From competing in high school and professional rodeos to helping govern the ins and outs of rodeo through management, training and good ol’ boots-on-the-ground, in-the-dirt judging and flagging, Chambliss played an integral role in establishing the groundwork and boundaries in which today’s ropers still function.
Chambliss was born in Clovis, New Mexico, in 1946, but spent his youth in the care of his grandmother in nearby Santa Rosa, east of Albuquerque. By high school, he was entering up in the saddle bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping and steer wrestling and, in 1963, he won the championship title at the National High School Rodeo Finals in the bronc riding. He got his RCA card in 1965 and continued to prove himself as a top competitor.
“He was an outstanding bronc rider,” said 2009 ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee Ace Berry, who was also Chambliss’ best friend for more than 50 years. “I mean, he was really classy. He was right up there at the top. He never won the world, but he won Cheyenne twice and went to the Finals a bunch of times. He was probably in the top four or five almost every year he rode.”
Indeed, Chambliss won the Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1972 and 1977, and went to the National Finals Rodeo six times between 1966 and 1977. He came up for the military draft in 1967 and, the day after that year’s NFR, he failed his physical due to his rodeo injuries, which would challenge him throughout his life.
From 1975 to 1980, Chambliss operated as the PRCA Rodeo Administrator, which paved the way to becoming the Director of Pro Officials from 1981 to 1985. Throughout his tenure with the PRCA, he also performed as the Corporate Secretary for PRCA Properties.
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