End of an Era

Charmayne James, the reigning Women's Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing world champion and the most successful woman in rodeo history, announced today that she will retire from elite competition to focus on her other business interests.

"I don't have anything more to prove as a competitor," said James, 33, who earned 10 consecutive world championships between 1984-1993 and claimed a record 11th world title in 2002. "Rodeo has been great to me, but I don't feel bad about not going to all the big rodeos. I have what I love to do, right now, here at home."

James, who was born in Amarillo, Texas on June 23, 1970, said that rather than traveling across North America pursuing major rodeo wins, she will stay closer to home and tend to her business affairs, which include the development of a motion picture focused primarily on her days as a barrel racing prodigy.

According to her business manager, Tony Garritano, James sold her life story to New Line Cinema for an undisclosed amount last year. She will serve as a consultant to the film's director, who is yet to be named. A script is currently in the works, said Garritano.

James will also focus on the breeding and training of barrel racing horses as well as conduct barrel racing clinics, both in the United States and abroad. In her role as one of the most recognized and marketable stars of rodeo, James will continue her relationships with corporate entities that include Wrangler western wear, Coors Brewing Co., Dodge Truck and equine products manufacturer Professional's Choice. Garritano said that James also wants to explore the possibility of working as a television commentator during rodeo telecasts.

For the first time in 20 years, the famous horsewoman will not appear on the contestant roster at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) to be held Dec. 5-14, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nev. However, James said she is OK with that. She will continue to compete on a more modest scale, mainly at competitions in her home state of Texas.

James won her first world title at age 14 at the 1984 NFR in Oklahoma City. The following year, James and her horse "Scamper" again proved their mastery of barrel racing when Scamper's headstall broke in the seventh round of the NFR (rodeo's equivalent to the NFL's Super Bowl). James had little control of Scamper, who continued the pattern and stopped the clock in 14.40 seconds to win the round and, eventually, James' second of 11 world titles.

In 1986, she won more prize money in a single year than any rodeo contestant, male or female, and in 1987, became the first woman barrel racer to ever wear the No. 1 back number at the NFR—an honor reserved for rodeo's highest money winner following the regular season. In 1993, she surpassed the $1 million earnings mark and garnered her record 10th world championship. Presently, her arena earnings are nearly $2 million, not counting bonuses and other prizes that do not appear in official tallies.

James credits much of her success to the horse Gills Bay Boy, an American Quarter Horse nicknamed "Scamper." The gelding, which was purchased from an employee at the James' family feedlot in Clayton, N.M., for $1,100, was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1996. He is the only barrel racing horse so honored. James qualified for the NFR on five different horses during her nearly 20 years as an elite rodeo competitor.

Capsule of Accomplishments
* A record 11 Women's Professional Rodeo Association World Championships (1984-93, 2003)
* A record seven NFR Average Titles
* 19-consecutive NFR qualifications (WPRA record)
* Olympic gold medal winner (1988 Calgary Olympics Rodeo)
* Career arena earnings of $1,896,568 through 2002
* National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee (1992)
* WPRA Rookie of the Year (1984)