King of the Ring adds to his hot streak

An Alabama livestock auctioneer has been on a roll and recently added the title of King of the Ring by winning the annual contest sponsored by Winter Livestock, Dodge City Kansas.

Chuck Bradley, 29, of Rockford, Alabama, bested a field of 10 contestants to pocket $15,000. Bradley had won the 2021 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Nashville, Tennessee, in June 2021, and as a result he could not compete in the King of the Ring contest a year ago.

Bradley decided several months ago he wanted to come back to Dodge City. Three years ago, he was runner-up to champion Charly Cummings, of Yates Center, Kansas.

“Nothing against Charly but I guess you could say I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth,” Bradley said. “It was something I just wanted to give another shot.”

He is good friends with Cummings and all the auctioneers share a kinship but contests showcase their competitiveness. Whether it is in an auction contest or in their home auction barns, it is all business in getting top dollar for farmers and ranchers who are selling their cattle, he said.

During the contest, Bradley was the 10th auctioneer in the opening round so he had an opportunity to hear his fellow competitors. As he thought about each one, he knew it was a tough field. Russele Sleep, Bedford, Iowa; Brian Little, Wann, Oklahoma; Kenneth Wilcox, West Fork, Arkansas; Jay Romine, Mount Washington, Kentucky; and Sixto Paiz, Portales, New Mexico, really stood out early on but he could see the strengths of the other competitors. Paiz was reserve champion and pocketed $5,000. Little was the Col. Roger Emigh Champions Choice and earned $1,500.

Bradley said the first group of cattle he marketed were so good he worried that he might be trying too hard, but by the second group he had relaxed and knew he had a chance to win.

“Any one of the guys could have won that championship,” he said. “When I got into the industry many of those guys were icons and became close friends.

“I was confident in my skill set and my talent but your fate is in the hands of five judges. It could go in any direction. Sixto did a nice job. I told my wife he was going to be one I am going to have to beat. I think Sixto is going to be the next great auctioneer that we will all be talking about.”

Bradley loves auctioneering and had the feel for it at an early age. He began his career path out of high school in 2017. “I’m very blessed and fortunate. God is at the wheel.”

Bradley said King of the Ring annually attracts top auctioneers and credits Brian, Mark, Darcy and Mason Winter and their families for their commitment to auctioneers and livestock industry by rolling out the red carpet as does the community during Dodge City Days.

“They run an excellent sale,” Bradley said. “You can tell, there were 7,500 to 8,000 head of cattle and those consignors are not going to sell all those cattle to somebody that doesn’t know what they are doing.

“It’s a testament to Brian and Mark that coming from their producers that they (the sellers) will let 10 guys they may or may not ever have heard of before get behind the microphone to sell their cattle. The reason they do that is they entrust Brian and Mark to market their cattle well.”

Bradley said although it is a friendly and competitive contest for him and the fellow contestants, they all share an important goal to sell livestock and get top dollar for the seller.

“You have a job to do,” he said about himself and his fellow auctioneers. “It keeps you on your toes.”

The King of the Ring is an opportunity for the Alabaman to travel to the central part of the United States and he enjoys the openness of the prairie and seeing the diversity in livestock production. During past trips to Kansas, he was able to go to the sale barns in and near the Flint Hills.

Another reason he wanted to participate is because of other auctioneers who pay homage to the late Roger Emigh, who was the driving force for having the King of the Ring competition in Dodge City, according to Brian Winter. Bradley did not know Emigh but his auctioneering skills and his generosity to others were legendary. Also, Bradley said in watching videos about Emigh he was impressed with his command of the auction and his charisma.

Other contestants included Neil Bouray, Webber, Kansas; Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, South Carolina; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, California; and Jason Santomaso, Sterling, Colorado. The King of the Ring competition also included a visit by Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa, who was the 2021 King of the Ring champion and the 2022 WLAC champion.

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The activities were all part of the 86th anniversary sale and the Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame induction of Robert “Bob” Rodenberger, Jim Santomaso, Col. Ralph Wills Wade, and Raymond Mark Winter.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].