Mayo, McBeth, Flynn, Dunn, Beutler take their place in ProRodeo Hall of Fame
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Paul Mayo, a two-time world champion and an innovator in the style of bareback riding that is still used today, headed a five-member ProRodeo Hall of Fame class that was inducted July 17 in a ceremony that had the feel of a family reunion.
Mayo, the world champion bareback rider in 1966 and 1970, was joined in the Hall by 1974 world champion saddle bronc rider John McBeth, three-time National Finals Rodeo bull riding champion Denny Flynn, bullfighter Rex Dunn and third-generation stock contractor Bennie Beutler.
That’s five men who all worked the roughstock end of the arena during careers that intersected many times on the rodeo road and who developed a deep sense of mutual respect.
“I’m proud to be part of this day in more ways than one,” McBeth said. “All of these guys are from our era; they’re all good cowboys and all good friends for a long time.”
Dunn reminisced about the 14 years he spent fighting bulls at Beutler family rodeos and how Flynn always remembered to thank him after every ride. Flynn talked about how Mayo was an idol of his when he started out, and how many times Beutler’s bull Cowtown hooked him. And Beutler had stories to tell on all of them.
“It is absolutely fun going in with this bunch of guys,” Beutler said.
Mayo, along with his brothers, Don and Bob, and Jim Houston, is credited with altering the style of bareback riding in the 1960s, taking a position farther back on the horse, literally lying down on the horse’s back and spurring as the horse went over the peak of its jump, began its descent and kicked up its hind legs.
Mayo, of Sutherland Springs, TX, became so expert at the technique – dubbed the Mayo Style – that in addition to his pair of gold buckles he was also the reserve world champion three times (1965, 1967 and 1971), losing the ’65 title to Houston by just $641.
A talented all-around hand, Mayo, 68, also qualified twice for the NFR in bull riding, rode saddle broncs and occasionally roped steers. He had 12 NFR qualifications overall, twice finished among the top three in the world all-around standings and won the Linderman Award for all-around excellence at both ends of the arena in 1968.
“Paul beat the best of two generations of bareback riders,” said ProRodeo Hall of Fame Saddle Bronc Rider Shawn Davis, who accompanied Mayo to the podium. “All the people he beat to win world titles are (already) in the Hall of Fame.
“The thing about Paul was that he understood rodeo better than anybody in the sport – how to enter, how to travel and how to compete once he got in the arena. A write-up in the PRCA annual may have said it best, describing him as ‘a cool character with Marlon Brando-like poise, a 5-5 cowboy with a prize fighter build who was one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.'”
McBeth, of Andover, KS, was an 11-time NFR qualifier (1965-74, 1978), all in saddle bronc riding. In his world championship season of 1974, he took the lead on March 15, was assured of the title before the NFR, and finished second in the average at Oklahoma City to break the event’s single-season earnings record by more than $10,000.
McBeth, 69, served as Prairie Circuit Manager for 10 years (1975-85) while still a competitor and won the year-end Prairie Circuit championship six times (1975-78, 1984-85). The second-generation PRCA cowboy also worked as a judge at the National Finals Rodeo, College National Finals Rodeo and National High School Finals Rodeo.
“Back in the early days of my career, a great rodeo cowboy gave me two pieces of advice that affected me profoundly,” McBeth said. “He said that amateurs compete against everyone, but a true professional only competes against himself. He also said you need to approach each ride with the idea you are going to spur one inch higher every jump.
“I always figured if I could follow those ideals and maintain an extreme sense of competition, I would do all right.”
Often identified as the most talented bull rider never to win a world title, Flynn, of Charleston, AR, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 10 times (1974-82, 1985) and set a record for most bull riding average titles won at the NFR (1975, 1981-82), later equaled by Jim Sharp. Flynn, 59, finished second in the PRCA season standings three times, losing the 1980 title to Don Gay by a mere $188.
His 98-point ride on Tommy Steiner’s Red Lightning at Palestine, IL, in 1979 was a world record for a dozen years and remains the second-highest score in ProRodeo history in any roughstock event. Flynn’s 92-point score on a bull named Ed Pivik at Cheyenne (WY) Frontier Days in 1974 stood as the arena record for 15 years. Flynn was inducted in the newly merged notables/lifetime achievement category.
“It was a humbling experience when I saw all my stuff in the display case,” said Flynn, who estimated 60-80 family and friends from Arkansas made the trip for the induction. “Here I was alongside all the greats of the sport. It was all a bit overwhelming. I’m proud to go in with this group. They have all been a big part of my life.”
The Beutler name has been synonymous with stock contracting since 1929, when brothers Elra, Jake and Lynn Beutler began providing stock to Oklahoma and Texas rodeos. Jake and Lynn – a member of the inaugural ProRodeo Hall of Fame induction class of 1979 – kept the sibling business running in similar form, while Elra eventually teamed with son Jiggs to form the original Beutler & Son marquee.
Bennie Beutler, 61, worked with his father, Jiggs, and grandfather in the family business, and after his elders’ deaths in the 1980s, Bennie joined forces with E.K. Gaylord II to form Beutler & Gaylord Rodeo. That partnership endured for a dozen years, with Beutler being named PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year in 1997. In 2001, Bennie and son Rhett began a partnership that reclaimed the firm’s original name, Beutler & Son.
Since 1982, Beutler has served as assistant general manager at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo after stints as NFR chute boss and the stock contractor representative on the NFR Committee. He served on the PRCA Board of Directors from 1989 through 2005.
“This has to be the highlight of my life in rodeo by far,” Beutler said. “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Dunn, 54, was selected to work three NFRs (1983, 1985-86), two Canadian Finals Rodeos and 13 circuit finals over a 16-year professional bullfighting career in which his deceptively effortless style earned him the nickname “Mr. Smooth” from Hall of Fame announcer Clem McSpadden. Dunn twice finished second in the Wrangler Bullfighting standings – making six appearances – and was voted PRCA Clown of the Year in 1985.
Once he stepped out of the arena, Dunn began putting on bullfighting schools and became a fighting-bull stock contractor, creating Coyote Hills Rodeo. He had 138 bulls selected for the NFR bullfighting competition from 1986-2000. The Professional Bullfighters organization has named an award in his honor, in tribute to his excellence in the arena.
“I’ve forgotten more good memories than most people ever have,” Dunn said, “and this is the greatest one of all … the biggest dream.”
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees are selected by a committee of former contestants, PRCA officials and rodeo experts. More than 150 individuals are nominated each year and selection is based on contributions to the sport of professional rodeo in any of seven categories: contestant, contract personnel, stock contractors, rodeo committees, livestock, notables and lifetime achievement.
Including this year’s inductees, 217 people, 25 animals and 16 rodeo committees have been enshrined in Colorado Springs, CO.
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