Most people know that a rodeo cowboys life is interesting, to say the least. Now people can have the chance to find out just how interesting, thanks to eight-time world roping champion Fred Whitfield.
Whitfield, a resident of Hockley, has spent a lifetime traveling from town to town to rope calves. He can now add published author to his resume, after penning the autobiography called Gold Buckles Don't Lie: The Untold Tale of Fred Whitfield.
"I started really young, at about seven or eight is when I first starting going around roping events," he said.
Fast forward a few decades later and Whitfield is now an eight-time world champion and a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, with career earnings of more than $3 million.
That's the story that many of his fans and followers already know about him. His book, says Whitfield, goes more in-depth.
"I thought that, over the years, there were things that had been left out of my story," he said. "I got approached by an author (Terri Powers) and the more I got to know her I decided that yes I would like to write an autobiography."
Whitfield says that while the book goes into the story of how he got involved in roping, his championships and his life traveling the roads; he wanted to also tell the story of how he because the man Fred Whitfield and not just the cowboy Fred Whitfield.
"There are stories about my childhood that people won't believe," he said. "I definitely had a lot of trials in my childhood."
Whitfield says that he also talks of the racism he experienced, being one of the few African American rodeo competitors.
"There are some things that I went through and a lot of nonsense that I had to deal with," he said. "I heard several times that the only reason I was around is because I was black. I never allowed it to completely define me though. All I wanted was to win championships."
When asked if winning those championships hushed those same people, Whitfield replied, "Damn right."
Being a rodeo performer is tough on a person's body and Whitfield has experienced numerous injuries over the years. He has had a broken leg, labrum and rotator cuff surgery and even had surgery on the vertebrae in his back. It's all part of the sacrifice to become successful, he said.
"If you work hard and give everything you have to something, you can come out on top more often then not," he said.
Now that Whitfield is older, he doesn't have plans to fully retire from the sport, but he has cut down on how many competitions he enters and is staying closer to home.
"I love the time that I have now with my family," he said. "I am content with what I have done rodeo-wise."
At a recent book signing at Woodforest National Bank in Tomball, Whitfield signed nearly 200 books for his "neighbors".
"I just want to thank everyone at Woodforest and all the people that came out, including many that I haven't seen in years," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better group of friends and fans."