Larry Mahan Obituary, Death – Larry Mahan, an Oregon sports hall of famer and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee, passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 79. The career of Mahan, arguably the most famous rodeo performer ever, included more than 1,200 rodeos and rides on more than 6,000 bucking horses and bulls, and he qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 26 times on the professional circuit. Through his charisma and many skills, he became the first major celebrity in professional rodeo, helping to introduce the sport to a wider public in the 1960s and 1970s. He owned and piloted his own plane, sported garish plaid shirts, designed his own line of western apparel, and appeared frequently on television and in print ads.
After his time in the rodeo, he tried his hand at country music and even became the subject of a documentary that went on to win an award. Growing up in Brooks, Mahan spent a lot of time with horses and learning how to wrangle calves. He began riding calves at the Salem Saddle Club on the state fairgrounds when he was 10 years old, two years after his father got him his first horse. When the saddle club had its two-hour calf riding sessions on Tuesdays and Sundays, Mahan got a job loading chutes for 75 cents an hour. After the lessons were through, Mahan was given the opportunity to ride on his own, a gesture that would be important in launching his legendary career. When he was 13, he entered his first rodeo in Redmond and won the calf riding event, winning $6 and a belt buckle.
After making his $1,000 cap in 1963, Mahan spent the next seven years competing as an amateur. The following year, he began his career as a professional rodeo cowboy, performing bareback rides, saddle bronc rides, and bull rides. His career lasted from 1964 to 1975. In 1966, Mahan’s second year on the professional circuit, he won the first of five straight all-around titles. In 1973, after two injury-plagued years, Mahan claimed a record sixth all-around victory. In 1965 and 1967, he also won national titles in bull riding. Among the many accolades bestowed upon Mahan throughout his life are inductions into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (in 1979 as a member of the initial class and again in 2010 as a Legend of Rodeo).