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James Randal (Jim) McGuire (1937–1980)

by Peter N. Poole

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James Randal (Jim) McGuire (1937-1980), rough-rider, was born on 12 July 1937 at Ripley, Queensland, second of three children of Michael McGuire, a native-born dairy farmer, and his Irish-born wife Mary Josephine, née Moynihan. The children attended the convent school at Booval. They rose early to help milk the cows, and had to knuckle down to additional chores after their father was killed in a horse-riding accident in 1946. Jim rode poddy calves around the yard, without a surcingle. He was infatuated by rodeos: he had an unsuccessful first ride on the steers at Fernvale and was bucked off an outlaw horse in Tex Morton's travelling show when only 10 years old.

Tired of dairying, and with no wish to enter the Ipswich coalmines, McGuire moved west to Taroom at the age of 17. He quickly became a first-class stockman, but his goal was to follow the rodeo-circuit full time. In 1956 he joined the Australian Rough Riders Association and by the early 1960s had become prominent at Queensland's major rodeos. His name appeared in the official riders' standings of the A.R.R.A., and he displayed versatility and toughness as a competitor. On 2 July 1960 at Holy Trinity Church, Taroom, he married with Anglican rites Margaret Isabel Clarris, an 18-year-old housemaid.

McGuire soon competed throughout Australia. The National Finals Rodeos, held at the end of each season, featured the top fifteen contestants in five major events: saddle 'bronc' riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, and roping. In 1967-76 McGuire set a remarkable record by qualifying each year in all five categories. He won the title of All-Round Champion Cowboy five times (1967, 1969, 1970, 1975 and 1976)—another record. What was more, he gained the national saddle (1968) and bareback (1969) bronc-riding titles, and was Australian steer-wrestling champion in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972. He won twenty-three trophy saddles and twenty State titles, and was victorious at every major rodeo in the country. Being narrowly beaten by Bill Nichols in the 1975 bull-riding championship was his sole regret. McGuire was saddle bronc-riding director (1970-71) on the executive-committee of the A.R.R.A.; the association made him a life member in 1979.

Songs were written about McGuire, and his strength and tenacity became legendary. Two severe accidents in bull-riding events slowed him only slightly; due to arthritis in his riding hand, he had to use a dangerous grip. Widely known as the 'Iron Man of Rodeo', he endured crippling injuries: he suffered from an arthritic back, eight pins had been inserted to repair fractures of his right arm, and his right shoulder was held together by a screw. He died of cancer on 1 January 1980 at Ipswich and was buried with Catholic rites in Taroom cemetery; his wife survived him, as did their son Danny and daughter Sharon. Margaret (a drover's daughter) and Sharon won national titles in the Girls' Rodeo Association (Women's Professional Rodeo Association). Danny was the world champion steer wrestler in 1978 and Australian champion in 1981, and national calf-roping champion in 1982 and 1984.

Select Bibliography

  • P. Poole, Rodeo in Australia (Adel, 1977)
  • Hoofs and Horns, Jan 1970
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 2 Jan 1980
  • P. Poole (compiler), Rough Riders' Browsing Book (transcript, and additional entries added at Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame, Longreach, Queensland).

Citation details

Peter N. Poole, 'McGuire, James Randal (Jim) (1937–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 24 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 July, 1937
Ripley, Queensland, Australia


1 January, 1980 (aged 42)
Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

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