Leon Coffee: Professional Rodeo Clown and ‘Man in the Can’ with 4 Decades of Passion for the Sport

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It’s been 44 years that Leon Coffee has employed his hardiness and ability to work well under pressure in the Texas rodeo life. A self-labelled “adrenaline junkie,” he gave an interview to the Houston Chronicle in 2016 that described his passion for the sport, which started out as something to do.

As a child, Coffee rode bucking horses in youth rodeos, catching the bug and working his way up from there. In high school, after a few years of bull riding, he was asked to sit in for a bullfighter at the school’s rodeo (those that distract the animal long enough for a rider to get to safety.) “It became an obsession,” he said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie. This is as big an adrenaline rush as you can get. You’ve got 1,800 pounds of beast with baseball bats sticking out of the side of his head and he wants to take you off the face of this earth.” Now he watches the sport from the inside of a barrel – a safer place at times. As a professional rodeo clown, or barrel man, he dons face paint, wears outlandish clothes, and provides comic relief when a lull in the action occurs.

As you can see in this video shared on their YouTube Channel by WatchTheDaily, it’s not as easy as it looks. And, Coffee can be heard saying, “…It’s a carnival ride that’s got a lot of danger in it…” Over the course of his rodeo career, he has had more than 100 bones broken, and says his bull riding and bull fighting injuries would fill more than three pages of a health report. The sport is much safer now than when Coffee was a greenhorn. Rodeo school, rigorous training, and flair and finesse have become more of a science than an art. “Before, you just had to be tough. Now you gotta be tough and smart,” he said. The young folks that take it up have expertise and athleticism to add to their passion, which Coffee agreed makes them “…just as much athletes as those in the NBA and NFL.” Watching with anticipation, he noted, “To see these guys nowadays, I wish I was 30 years younger.”