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Editor and Contributing Writer

Featured Photograph: Steve Duhon (Courtesy of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame)

Whenever the inevitable conflict appeared about which sport he should continue to play, Steve Duhon always picked what seemed his most natural and comfortable option.

Growing up Duhon always loved baseball and in despite of being initially looked over by college recruiters, he was good enough to land a football scholarship and play at LSU.

What always became the sport of choice for Duhon however was rodeo, a logical decision considering he grew up on his father’s Opelousas-area horse farm, riding there often with his brother Ike and then gradually transitioning to the professional rodeo circuit where he became a three-time national champion steer wrestler.

Duhon’s accomplishments as a rodeo champion will be acknowledged June 23-25 in Natchitoches where he is scheduled for induction with 10 other athletes into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Now 60 and living on a ranch near Jasper Tx., Duhon said during a 2021 telephone interview shortly after his selection as a Sports Hall of Fame member was announced, that he came to realize jumping off a horse and immobilizing a moving steer six times his weight was what he was meant to do.

“I’m just thankful that I did something that I loved to do. I was on the professional circuit from 1985 until 1995 and looking back I really never wanted to do anything else,” Duhon said.

Throwing-down a steer that is usually terrified and uncooperative is skill not all professional athletes seek to learn, but Duhon, who has torn up his knees and damaged a shoulder performing the art in rodeo arenas, said it was a sport that seemed to align with his natural instincts.

Steve Duhon doing what he liked to do – steer wrestling. (Photograph courtesy of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.)

“Me and Ike did rodeos our senior years (at Opelousas’ Belmont Academy). My daddy (Billy Duhon) taught us how to rope and how to ride. I was always kind of built for it, being 5-10 and around 195 before high school, so you have to be athletic. Ike and me, we practiced twice a week and we rode horses every day,” Duhon said.

The chemistry between horse and rider when approaching a steer barreling out the chute is something that is accomplished through practice. The other elements for accomplished steer wrestlers are aggressiveness and toughness, Duhon pointed out.

Duhon said there is little doubt that he always possessed a little of both, along with mounting a trained horse that’s not just along for the ride.

“The horses in steer wrestling have to do their job. To be a good competitor at a high level, it’s always going to be 50 percent horse and 50 percent rider who knows what to do and how to handle the situation,” said Duhon.

Duhon provided a spectacular audition into professional rodeo when he was named National Rodeo Association Rookie of The Year in 1985. A year later Duhon won his first championship during national rodeo competition when he wrestled down a steer in three seconds.

His second championship came a year later and that title was followed by another won in 1993, a year after he momentarily left the pro circuit to take care of his father, who had taught him so much about the sport.

In addition to his three championships, Duhon was also a national finalist eight times and was selected to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2002.

LSU Football Career

Duhon played several positions at Belmont, an Opelousas private school which competed in the Louisiana Independent School Association.

At Belmont Duhon and his brother Ike became legendary performers. Both were LISA all-state selections and during his career, Steve Duhon rushed for 3,305 yards and tackled 148 ball carriers, according to a biographical sketch written by Ron Higgins in September for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Duhon, in the Tiger Rag Magazine interview with Higgins, said there was interest in his football abilities among recruiters, but he didn’t sign a scholarship until LSU head coach Jerry Stovall realized Duhon was Southeastern Conference football material.

Steve Duhon at LSU. (Photograph courtesy of Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.)

Stovall in the article, said he was impressed by Duhon’s toughness and in 1981 Duhon, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker, had 19 tackles during his freshman season.

“I mean I liked football, especially the contact and the aggressive part. I had fun that one year at LSU, but (in 1982) I began to feel like what I was doing (with college football) really wasn’t me. It really wasn’t going to continue being that much fun,” Duhon said in the 2021 telephone interview that is now owned by St. Landry Now.

As a freshman who saw the field regularly amid SEC competition, Duhon was a rarity, since normally college football athletes during that era didn’t play often until their sophomore years.

“I played on all the special teams and as a linebacker I was in every game we played (during a 3-7-1 season). I think the coaches (at LSU) liked the way I played the game. When I told the (LSU) I was leaving, I came home and Pete Jenkins (LSU assistant) was at my house with my dad, who as I recall was really upset at my decision,” said Duhon.

His Current Life

In retirement Duhon’s lifestyle isn’t that much different from than the one he experienced growing up in a family of five.

He lives not that far from Sam Rayburn Lake and he also owns property near Huntsville, Mo., where he hunts and fishes with his friends who are fortunate enough to warrant an invitation.

“In Missouri our land is part of rolling hills country. Back home I train horses and sell them along with some cattle. I also help kids who are interested in rodeo. I have a couple of grandkids who went to Opelousas Catholic and I have a bunch of guys from Eunice that I am close friends with. Looks like I never really have quit doing what I like doing,” added Duhon.