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Gary Leffew Part 1: He May Be Imitated, But He’ll Never Be Duplicated

If you’re going to be anywhere near Las Vegas December 7-16, plan to stay at the Tropicana and go to the Annual Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠

Gary Leffew

In Case You Don’t Know…

  • 1970 World Champion Bull Rider
  • 7X WNFR Qualifier
  • WNFR Average Winner (rode 9 out of 10 bulls)
  • Past PRCA Bull Riding Director
  • 2002 PRCA Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 30+ Years as a Professional Bull Riding Instructor
  • First to utilize “Psycho Cybernetic” methods
  • 13 Former Students have won a World Championship
  • 2 Former Students have won a PBR World Finals
  • Actor – over 200 commercials and various movies and TV series
  • Stunt Coordinator/Project Coordinator
  • Technical Advisor for various projects including the 2004 HBO series “Deadwood”; the 1994 movie “8 Seconds”; and the 2010 movie Jackass 3D; as well as music videos for iconic performers Katy Perry, John Mayer, and Korn.
  • Host of the ONE AND ONLY Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠

Gary Leffew always has, and always will, march to the beat of his own drum. More than likely on some sort of drum he has developed himself! He’s never been afraid to pioneer new frontiers, blur societal boundaries, and “buck” the system (pun intended). He’s one of the few who has remained a driving force in the sport he loves – Bull Riding – beyond his retirement, after 20 years of competition.

Gary Leffew, as a young “teen angel”.

From the time that Gary decided to make the leap, literally, from his motorcycle to a bull, at his very first rodeo when he was 19, he has been transforming not only his own way of thinking, performing, and competing; but also has been working to transform how bull rider athletes to this day achieve success.
In fact, Leffew was one of the first bull riders to encourage other riders to refer and think of themselves as Professional Athletes – not just “cowboys”. He happened upon rodeo during a time of social unrest in our nation. The Vietnam War was at the center of everyone’s mind. Rodeo was a different animal then. Traveling expenses were minimal. A motel room was a mere $6 a night and gasoline 29 cents a gallon. A guy could travel, compete, and run amuck without worrying too much about the “bottom line”. Then, life happened to Gary on a personal level. He married, had a child on the way, and he had to either ride and win – or make an early retirement and do something more profitable.
Then – enter stage right – came a book entitled “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz; which, by Gary’s own words, “changed his life”.  And Gary wasn’t afraid to let others in on his secret. As you can imagine, the “typical” cowboy back then wasn’t open to terms like “Visualization”, “Zen-like State” and the “Mental Game”. He was the very first to approach competition in this manner. Learning to drown out negative opinion and gear his mind and thoughts to success became his mantra. It’s just been very recently that the PBR has finally joined the ranks with their “new” training camps utilizing visualization and mental training. Gary was ahead of the curve by over 40 years!
Success didn’t just happen for him. It took a transformation from the inside to achieve his 1970 World Championship. When he learned to mentally put himself into the Winner’s Circle, he went on to compete in 25 of America’s top-paying rodeos, placing in 24. He won the World Championship and the WNFR Average – riding 9 out of 10 bulls. He qualified for the WNFR  seven times and eventually earned his way into the PRCA Hall of Fame.
And from there, he went on – and on. In fact, Gary has coined the phrase “The road goes on forever, and the party never ends”.  He may be over 70, but it’s hard to tell by looking at him – and certainly hard to tell by listening to him. Mr. Leffew has made the most out of his hap-hazard choice back in the early ’60’s to get on a bull. Since then, he has branched into acting, advising, helping to produce, and stunt coordination for movies, commercials, and videos.

From the set of the HBO Series “Deadwood”, on which Gary served as both Actor and Technical Advisor. Gary is seated, bottom left.

Leffew also was very involved in the 1994 movie “8 Seconds”, starring Luke Perry; and was assigned the task to teach Perry how to ride a bull. The only catch was that he had to teach him without actually putting the actor on a bull until all of the other film was “in the can” because they didn’t want Luke injured and unable to finish filming. So, Gary Leffew put his “Psycho-Cybernetic” methodology to the test and worked with the actor daily. Gary said that in actuality, actors have been the easiest to train/coach/teach; as they are trained mimics. After weeks of mental and visualization training, Luke Perry made his first ride on a live bull and made a beautiful, qualified ride! Bam!
In 1974, Gary produced the very first Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠ during the Cow Palace Rodeo in Daly City, just on the outskirts of San Francisco, California. Over the years, his event became an integral part of the rodeo festivities and when my then-husband was rodeoing, our other rodeo friends and we would always make time to attend. It certainly was worth the motel room to stay and enjoy Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠.

One of the very first Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball℠ – when there was always a Halloween Costume Contest. Pictured here, are Bannacheck, the one and only Donnie Gay, and Monty “Hawkeye” Henson.

And so, as Gary says, “The road goes on forever, and the party never ends”. Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠ tradition continues on at the Tropicana in Vegas during the 2017 WNFR. If you’re going to be anywhere near Las Vegas December 7-16, plan to stay at the Tropicana and go to the Annual Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠. You just never know who you might see there. Past Balls have had appearances by celebrities such as actor/director Luke Perry, actor Stephen Baldwin, singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham, and many rodeo stars past and present.
The Tropicana features a Texas-style dance floor and national recording artist Scotty Alexander and the Texas Jamm Band, along with members of George Strait’s Ace In The Hole Band will be performing nightly. Enjoy free parking, and room rates starting at only $45!! Use the code SNFR17 when calling to reserve rooms at 800-634-4000. Admission is FREE for the best party in town!

Gary, left, and Singer/Songwriter Ryan Bingham

For more information, go to: the CLN center for Vegas After Parties!


Gary Leffew, right, pictured with actor Buck Taylor, from the legendary western series “Gunsmoke”

Craig Copeland, Debbie Garrison, and Gary at his Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball ℠ in Fort Worth, TX.

Bill Getzwiler, left, and Gary Leffew – ca. 1975

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Born and raised on a cattle ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwest Montana, Eileen graduated from University of Montana - Western with a Business Degree. She is the mother of two grown children - Sydnee, and Billy Quade; and grandmother of two, Lillian and Rocky Rex. Eileen draws from personal, life experiences; as she has held many positions over the years including heavy equipment operator, member of a survey crew for Independence Mining, veterinary technician, Bud Girl for Anheuser-Busch, PR Director for the Idaho Cowboys Association, feed manager for Midland Bull Test Station in Columbus, Montana, National Event Coordinator for Montana Silversmiths, security guard for the Muskogee Creek Nation One Fire Casino, Marketing Director for the Tulsa RV Ranch, and freelance writer for various publications - including a weekly column for three years in the "Elko Daily Free Press" in Elko, Nevada. She enjoys training barrel horses and singing - and has sung the National Anthem for rodeos such as the Reno Rodeo in Reno, Nevada, the College National Finals, and the New Year's Eve Bull Bash in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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