A true trailblazer, Myrtis Dightman was the first African-American cowboy to ride in the National Finals Rodeo. For many years the only black man in rodeo, he was generally recognized as an excellent performer by his competitors.
Born at Crockett, Texas, in 1935, Dightman entered the sport in 1961 as a bullfighter and clown, but he soon progressed into competition. His early victories came in the bronc- riding and steer-wrestling events. In the later 1960s and early 1970s he specialized in bull riding and was nationally ranked 4th in 1968, 15th in 1969, 13th in 1970, and 7th in 1972.
Although now retired from active competition, Myrtis Dightman won the Old Timers Championship for four consecutive years in the early 1990s. He lives in Houston and Crockett, Texas, where he works with youth groups and mentors other black rodeo performers. His son, Myrtis Dightman, Jr., followed him into professional competition.