Gold may be a rare commodity for many, but a couple of cowboys in Decatur own it in a bushel basket.

Between them, Trevor Brazile and Tuf Cooper own 27 world championship gold buckles. They are great ropers, great horsemen, great cowboys and the faces of the ProRodeo.

They’re also brothers-in-law and are battling for this year’s all-around world championship … again. A year ago, Cooper claimed his first all-around title, which goes in the trophy case along with his three tie-down roping buckles. Brazile finished second, but he owns the record with the most world championships (23) and the most all-around titles (13).

“It’s fun to see,” Brazile said. “Tuf’s had an amazing year. He’s done good in both of his events. He set a single-season earnings record in steer roping and leads it going into the steer roping finals. I’m really proud about that one. He’s barely second in tie-down roping and winning the all-around.

“I’m always happy to see that, because I know how hard he’s worked his whole life.”

The tandem has been together most of Cooper’s life. The youngest son of eight-time world champion Roy Cooper, he has had some great mentors through his formative years.

“Trevor has been in my life since I was 6 years old,” Cooper said. “He really is a brother. I’ve probably spent more time with Trevor than any other individual. His work ethic is unreal. His attitude is the very best in the world. The way he controls himself in any situation is phenomenal.

“I’ve enjoyed as a fan but also as an up-and-comer. I’m following in his footsteps. He’s the great role model, brother, coach, teacher and family member that I could ever ask for.”

The two live 30 miles from each other in Wise County, and they know well the roads between each other’s homes.

“If he’s got bigger fans, they’re in the family,” Brazile said of Cooper, 14 years his junior. “At the end of the day, we’re first and second in the race, but we’re going against mistakes, we’re going against execution and we’re going against all these other things we’ve both practiced. We both work hard, and we want to see those who work hard have success.”

They’ve proven why intense training pays off. Brazile is one of just two cowboys in the game’s history to have qualified for the National Finals in all four roping disciplines – heading, heeling, tie-down roping and steer roping—and owns gold buckles in all but heeling. He’s a two-time Triple Crown winner—he earned three world titles in a season twice, in 2007 and 2010.

“With Trevor, we practice together every day,” Cooper said. “I drive to his house and practice, whether he likes me to or not. It’s awesome to be able to practice with Trevor; he’s the greatest cowboy that’s ever roped or ever worn a cowboy hat. He’s helped develop my talent in other events. He’s helped me broaden my vision on my goals and my career by pushing me.”

They push each other, really, which is why they are in a dogfight for another gold buckle. Ted Harbin

Ted Harbin is a longtime journalist who spent 22 years in the newspaper industry before focusing on rodeo. He owns Rodeo Media Relations and TwisTed Rodeo and is one of just eight individuals to be honored with media awards by both the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. He lives in Maryville, Mo., with is wife, Lynette, and their two daughters, Laney and Channing.