Inmate Jack Favor , a former rodeo star from Texas , worked to establish the rodeo. Due to restrictions, this video cannot be viewed in your region. Learn more about our standards and ethics policy here , and report factual errors to corrections littlethings. Webarchive template webcite links All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from July Retrieved February 6, The first team to bring milk to the judge wins the prize.
Those who manage to hang on are awarded varying amounts of cash depending on the riskiness of the event. Lathan, who is serving a year sentence for armed robbery, has competed in the rodeo for nine years. Inmates receive no training before they go out to perform. Reports of serious injuries have resulted in helmets, mouthguards and vests for participants. These precautions are about the only way the tradition has evolved since it began in the s. Since then, the audience has grown along with keen media attention — the prison requires vigilant escorts for any press that comes through the gates, including the Guardian.
These officials stress that professional cowboys and rodeo clowns are present at all times. In fact, the prison inherited the name Angola from the working slave plantation it was before the civil war. Prison officials are adamant that no one is forced to participate in the rodeo. But the economics of the prison system challenge the definition of choice. The rodeo is the only chance most Angola inmates get to make a livable income — and not just inside the arena. The inmates who have been in prison the longest without incident, called trustees, are allowed to sell their work, from snakeskin wallets to rocking chairs, at the craft fair outside the rodeo and mingle with attendees.
Others who have not yet earned trustee status sell from behind a chain-link fence. These men can make thousands of dollars in one day. Rodeo money even subsidizes the crown jewel of the department: Severe budget cuts have created even more intense need.
They do have some calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding, but it is their unique prison rodeo events that set this place apart. A huge bull with real horns longer than my arm waits in a stall, and he is agitated. When he is released into the arena, the first thing he sees is that red table, and it appears as if he cannot believe four men are sitting in the middle of his ring.
He snorts and kicks his hoof into the dirt, as he puts his head down and gathers a full head of steam before he reaches his target. Now, the game is this: That might not seem like much in the free world, but in this place it will make you a rich man and definitely change your lifestyle.
You would not believe how high a human being can fly when helped along by a two thousand pound bull! Three men lay crumpled in a pile on the dismantled table, and the rodeo clown helps them to their feet as they shake their heads and the crowd cheers wildly. Another cowboy struts across the ring triumphantly and raises his hat in the air.
The very last event, and the one that everyone has come to see, is a true spectacle. All the convicts, probably fifty in number, are gathered in the arena. The biggest, baddest bull awaits them. He is being poked and prodded and severely disturbed in his stall and cannot wait to be freed. He has a red medallion tied to his forehead. The game is this: This becomes a free-for-all as convicts are chasing an angry bull and also strenuously competing with one another to wrestle the chip away from his massive, butting head.
It is quite fascinating to watch. He is the favorite. He obviously is very motivated, gifted in this area, and has a better strategy than all of the others. The gates open and the bull blasts out of the stall. All you can see is a cloud of dust and convicts bouncing around and flying through the air. Every few seconds the bull emerges from the dust and then the men swallow him up.
Desire, motivation, and a good plan make for a very powerful combination. Convict Poker at Angola.