Fred Whitfield, who in 1999 became the first African American to win an all-around world title, found that competing on the professional rodeo circuit wasn't nearly as tough as getting inducted into the sport's Hall of Fame.

Whitfield, 37, who has won six world titles in tie-down roping and is still competing professionally, was inducted yesterday into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.

"Here we go," Whitfield said, taking a deep breath. His voice began to weaken, weighed down by emotion as he went on.

"This is pretty tough for me . . . oh man, this is tough," fellow inductee and three-time world champion in team roping Tee Woolman said. He paused and wiped away tears under his sunglasses before trying to go on. "I'd rather just go out and rope."

World champion bareback rider Clint Corey; longtime rodeo announcer and contract personnel Bob Tallman; Dr. J. Pat Evans, the founder of the Justin Sportsmedicine team; former Dallas Morning News sports editor Dave Smith; world-champion saddle bronc rider Alvin Nelson; the late Asbury Schell, a three-time team roping world champion; deceased bareback bronc Three Bars; and longtime secretary June Ivory were also inducted.

While many of the inductees for years had tamed bucking broncs and 1,800-pound bulls, they couldn't tame their emotions when they accepted their bronze trophies and induction into the hall.

-- From News Services