By Madelaine Mills
Tyson Durfey, the 2016 World Champion tie-down roper, exemplifies a story of rags to riches in pursuit of a dream. Growing up poor in a single-wide trailer house in Savannah, Missouri, he was no stranger to hard work. Living with two older brothers, Travis and Wes, as well as his dad, Roy, Tyson lived to rope. He practiced mornings before school, would worked as a farrier after class then roped late into the evening every day.
The lessons he learned as a young man, helped create the champion’s heart that he has today. One of those that has stuck with him to this day includes being patient.
“The greatest lesson I have learned over my life is to be patient and to accept the process that’s in front of me,” Tyson said.
Tyson’s journey to becoming one of the best tie-down ropers in the world has not been easy. He experienced hardships multiple times, like going broke while pursuing his dream. The catch–he never gave up. Right at the age of 18, Tyson set out on the rodeo road with his permit and $30,000. Within a year he was broke. He returned home started a welding business and worked his way back towards a dream. After acquiring a job on a ranch that provided ample practice time, Tyson began rodeoing again, but still could not win consistently. He fell in debt and the only way out was to win. His mental game was the first thing to change and things began to turn around.
His grit and determination have earned him ten WNFR qualifications, one World Title, one RNCFR championship, as well as three Canadian World Championships (the first non-Canadian resident to accomplish this) to name a few. Now living in Weatherford, Texas with his wife, Shea Fisher and daughter, Praise Royal, Tyson’s home life is far different than it was growing up. Australian born, Shae also competes in the WPRA and as a country-music singer has performed at the NFR.
“It’s a such a blessing to have my family behind me and supporting me, but also competing alongside me,” said Tyson. “Knowing that I’m always going to have them allows me to take more risks in the arena. But, my happiness is not based on how I compete in the arena. It’s based on how I live my life and my relationship with God.”
Outside of the arena, Tyson and Shea have continued in their entrepreneurial ways with a jewelry and silversmith company, Shea Michelle Buckles. They are involved with all aspects of the business including design and sales. They also have started Shea Baby Boots.
“In and outside of the arena, we go 100 all the time,” said Tyson.
Tyson has also built upon his experiences to motivate others. He is currently leading the PRCA world standings going into the Summer run.
One on One with the Wrangler NFR Contestant – Tyson Durfey
Favorite movie: The Cowboys with John Wayne
Motivation/goal setting techniques: Whether it’s getting to the NFR or in business, I outline the steps it takes to accomplish that goal. Sometimes those steps involve working with someone who is strong in a certain area or envisioning myself as that person. It’s the mind set of. “If they can do it, I can do it.” The next question is how did they do it? It doesn’t mean they are better than anyone else, they just developed a process that worked and took off with it.
Favorite dessert: Pumpkin pie! I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday.
Favorite card or board game: My wife and I love monopoly. We are kind of cheaters though because we will team up and help each other out.
Favorite sport, other than rodeo: I’m not really an avid sports fan. I mean I watch the Super Bowl, but other than that I’m focused on rodeo.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: I don’t know… I think that God put rodeo in my path for a reason because I’ve tried getting away from it and kept coming back. I would like to think I could be a performance coach, motivational speaker or a real-estate developer.
What Super Power would you want to have: I would want to see the future.
Best childhood memory: My whole family would load up in a single cab. It would be my dad, mom, two brothers and me. They would be four wide and I would lay across them headed to rodeos. I remember watching my dad and playing with other rodeo kids. I would always bring a trash bag to collect all the pop and beer cans at every rodeo. We’d throw them in the back of the truck and take them home. Growing up poor we had to be resourceful.
Favorite thing you like about Las Vegas: The people. It is one place in the world where every single rodeo fan comes at the same time. You can meet people from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Australia and all over the U.S.
Music: I listen to country, but I switch it up. There’s rock ‘n roll, hip-hop, rap, praise music.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: Nikko is my bay horse that I am leading the world on right now. He scores good, stops great, and can handle anything. He is such a special horse and such a large percent of the team. He is one I will have forever.
What belt buckle do you wear and why: I wear the 2014 NFR go-round buckle that I split with Tuf Cooper and then when I’m on the road I wear my World Champion buckle.
What would people be surprised to learn about you: I lived in the backseat of my truck for a while and struggled for everything I had. It was a learning curve on the rodeo trail.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young rodeo competitor, what would it be: Work on your craft relentlessly, every day. Self-reflect every day and ask yourself “What am I doing better? What am I doing wrong and how can I fix it?” A lot of young kids just drift through life, where they could be constantly working towards being better. The second thing is to manage and budget your money because that is the biggest hurdle on the rodeo trail. Unless you have finances coming in from family or somewhere else, learn to manage, budget and plan ahead.
Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter: I’m more of an Instagram guy. There’s not near as much reading and it involves more pictures so it takes less time.
Follow Tyson Durfey on Instagram