Father and son cowboys travel the world for rodeo

June 18, 2013 at 1:18 a.m.

"I learned from the best," said Cuney McAfee. "I have worked with the world's greatest cowboys, and some of them are my best friends, like Fred Whitfield, Tommy Cook, Mayfield and the Solomon Brothers from Prairie View."

McAfee, of Victoria, has been a cowboy since the age of 6.

"I used to have to go out and milk the cow in the morning and bring her home in the evening. I was born on the Jones Ranch in Hallettsville," McAfee said.

He and his son, Charles Williams, also of Victoria, are two of the best-known calf ropers in Texas. Fred Whitfield, a three-time world champion calf roper from Cypress, was mentored by McAfee, 77.

"My dad was a cowboy, and he worked from sunup to sundown. He never wanted me to be a cowboy because whenever they had a rodeo in Hallettsville, they would come into town, get drunk and kill each other. They would throw caution to the wind," McAfee said. "But I don't call that a cowboy. That's just a fool."

McAfee joined the professional rodeo circuit at age 38.

He and his son traveled all over the world with the rodeo.

"I've rodeoed for about 15 years. My father and my uncle taught me to be a cowboy. I started out as an amateur. and then I moved up to work with the Bill Pickett association."

Although retired from rodeoing, McAfee and Williams are still involved behind the scenes. Williams has sons who are involved in the rodeo and he and his father serve as advisers.

While rodeoing has evolved to more of a sport, it began in Africa with cattle ranching. According to Charles C Mann's book, "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created," Africa has been the center of cattle herding and cattle ranching for thousands of years before Europeans ever learned. Native Americans, as well as the Spanish explorers, learned cattle ranching from the African slaves brought to America.

The father and son have traveled the world with the rodeo. Williams said Brazil holds the best memories because of the friendliness of the people.

He said language was never a barrier as they traveled the world.

"Regardless of the language that is spoken, everybody understands rodeo. It's a universal language."

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