Rodeo Bull Rider
Bull rider Charles Sampson was born in 1957 and grew up with twelve brothers and sisters in Watts, outside of Los Angeles, California. Shortly after his family moved to Gardenia, California, Sampson developed an interest in horses, but it was a Boy Scout trip in 1969 that led him to bull riding.
At just 17, Sampson won his first rodeo competition, subsequently receiving a scholarship to Central Arizona College. Despite numerous arena injuries, he couldn’t be held back from success. In 1981, his earnings placed him fourth in the PRCA standings. The following year, Sampson was crowned the 1982 World Champion Bull Rider, the first black contender to win an event championship. At the height of his career, Sampson was riding 30 to 35 bulls a month, keeping him on the road and in rodeo arenas for more than 300 days a year. In one five-day period, Sampson managed to compete in eight rodeos from Oregon to Texas.
He was the World Champion Bull Rider at the 1982 National Finals Rodeo
n 1986, rodeo fans voted Charles Sampson the Coors “Cowboy of the Year.” The next year, he established the Cowboy Charitable Foundation, dedicated to assisting the families of professional cowboys in need. He retired from the sport in 1994, and two years later was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. More recently, Sampson was inducted into the Cowboys of Color Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Pro Bull Riders Ring of Honor.