JERRY OLSON, of Belle Fourche, SD, was born November 22, 1935 in Sturgis, SD to LaRue & Rena Olson. His father LaRue had a horse act that was contracted to area rodeos early in Jerry’s life. In this act they performed the famous Roman Riding which Jerry continued to use throughout his professional career.
In the early 1950s Olson Roman Riding Act and finish by riding them in to the truck to load. His Buffalo Act first included buffalo’s named Pat, then Sam followed by Chief. Jerry said, “Horses learn 12 times faster than buffalo, but it’s not because they aren’t smart, they are a wild animal.”
Jerry began his bullfighting career when the regular bullfighter was a no-show at a rodeo contracted by his father in the late 1950s. He joined the RCA in 1954 and continued to work as a rodeo clown and bullfighter as well as contract acts until 1990.
He also competed as a bareback and saddle bronc rider, tie-down roper, team roper and steer wrestler. He was one of the top fifteen steer wrestlers to qualify for the 1969 National Finals.
He worked and competed in rodeos across the country, including Madison Square Garden, Edmonton (Canada), Pendleton, Denver, Fort Worth, El Paso, Deadwood, and many, many more. He was also hired to work rodeos in Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico.
In 1973 he was picked as bullfighter for the National Finals.
He served on the PRCA Board of Directors from 1969 to 1973 as Contract Director which included announcers, rodeo clowns, bullfighters, judges, stock contractors, laborers, secretaries, specialty-act performers, timers and photographers. In 1985-‘86 he again served on the Board of Directors until he was injured severely in a ranching accident.
Honors include: 1983 PRCA Contract Act of the Year
1994 Induction into the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, Pierre, SD
2001 Induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, CO
2004 induction into the South Dakota Hall of Fame
Jerry and his wife, Fern, have celebrated 60 years of marriage. They have three children; Jerry Wayne Olson, Lonnie Olson and Vicki (Olson) Tope. Jerry is also a retired rancher. He is the second generation of a rodeo family, and his son, Jerry Wayne is the third generation to continue being a Contract Act performer.
Jerry has made a remarkable contribution to the sport of rodeo by being a contestant, bullfighter, contract performer, and (two term) Board Member.
TOMMY LUCIA, of Weatherford, TX, was born in 1942 and grew up in Minneapolis, MN where times were tough for the family. But at age 15 Tommy started riding bulls and competed at rodeos in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa. He began clowning a few years later. He went to his first PRCA convention in 1965. He was hired by Bill McKee and later by Billy Minick. He continued to fight bulls and have acts until 1982, when he knew he needed a change. “My mind was telling my body it needed a different occupation.”
He continued training animals and concentrated on having specialty acts. He used primates and horses. He had much success with his swayback horse, In His Glory I, and when he died of colic he found In His Glory II. Both had many tricks and were hits with the audience.
He found his Capuchin ‘star’ Whiplash in Miami, when he answered an ad. The monkey was just a youngster and Tommy took his time with him. Whiplash has an energetic attitude. One might say he is a bit ‘hyper’. When it is time to eat he’ll throw his toys against the cage to show his demands. Eventually Tommy put him on the back of his border collie and it took him 8 months to learn to keep his balance. Then it took another length of time to get him used to the clothes, chaps and hat he wears when performing. He has nothing keeping him in the saddle except a safety belt, and he hangs on to the handlebars with his hands, while his feet hang on to the dog’s hair. Tommy’s dogs were often imported from Scotland, being the larger type of border collies weighing 50 to 60 pounds. The sheep used in the act are Barbados, because he explained, “they stay wild”.
Tommy, and Whiplash, in addition to performing at numerous rodeos across the nation, have been on the television Letterman and The Tonight Show, and have performed at National Basketball Association venues, as well as for numerous private business events.
Tommy Lucia was the PRCA Specialty Act in 1999 and (Dress) for 2003, ’04 and ’05. He was an alternate bullfighter/barrelman for the National Finals in 1972, ’73 and ’79.
Tommy retired in 2013 due to major health problems and has had to give up performing. (Whiplash, however, is still on the rodeo road under the direction of Kenny Petet.)
These two men are both extremely qualified to be inducted to the Rodeo Historical Society Hall of Fame. Please consider voting for each one.
See you at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum September 25th & 26th for the Induction Weekend. And, if you are NOT a member of the Rodeo Historical Society call 405-478-2250 and ask to speak to Stacie Michaels and ask her to send you a membership form, so you are eligible to vote for those being considered for induction.