Utah paper reports on the victorious Hawaiian cowboys at Wyoming, 1908.


For a dozen years back there has been held in Cheyenne, Wyo., what is called Frontier day, which calls together thousands of people from many states, and involves wild west performances of the most interesting and expert character. There is wild horse riding, steer roping, and a cowboy carnival in general. For the first time in the history of these contests the championship for steer roping has been taken away from the United States. Three Hawaiian cowboys were on hand, and one of them carried off the highest honors. He had met the former American champion, Angus McPhee, at Honolulu in July, and there defeated him. Ikua Purdy, the full-blooded Hawaiian cowboy, promised to come to Cheyenne and make good his defeat of McPhee against all comers. He brought only his saddle and heavy rawhide lariat, which equipment provoked smiles among the local cowboys. Purdy was accompanied by a fellow-Hawaiian, Archie Kaaua, and he too, made a record. There may be a few cowboys among our readers, for whose benefit we extract from the Denver Republican the story of the Hawaiian victory as follows:

At first the Americans laughed at the Hawaiians. The laugh was changed to admiration, however, when Archie Kaaua roped in the fast time of 1:09, defeating the best previous performance of 1:11 by Peter Dickerson of Arizona. Then came the champion, Purdy, and when he had tied his steer securely, the judges announced his time as 1:03 2-5. A mighty cheer greeted him. By this time the Americans had not only the greatest respect for the dark-skinned visitors, but they feared them and predicted they would win. The next day Purdy, Kaaua, Hugh Clark of Cheyenne and Peter Dickerson, the only men qualifying for the finals, roped. Kaaua roped in the slow time of 1:48 1-5, and the Americans took hope. Then Dickerson fell down and got no time. Then Hugh Clark roped in 1:20. This left Champion Purdy with the best time of 1:03 2-5, but he had to rope another steer. Excitement was at fever heat, for Clark had attained the best average for the three days up to this time. Finally Purdy’s steer was turned out of the corral, and with a dash Purdy was after him. Purdy made a perfect throw, “busted” his steer, and, slipping from his horse, ran quickly to the fallen animal and in a twinkling had “hog-tied.” A great shout went up when the time was announced at 56 seconds, and Purdy was declared the winner and retainer of the championship title, Clark was second, Kaaua third and Dickerson fourth.

(Salt Lake Tribune, 9/1/1908, p. 10)


The Salt Lake Tribune, Volume LXXVII, Number 140, Page 10. September 1, 1908.

President Roosevelt and Ikua Purdy, 1909.


One thing that President Roosevelt [Rusawela] was extremely pleased at from the steer-roping boys of Hawaii nei, was their gift that they sent by way of Representative Kuhio; and within a letter sent was a picture of Ikua Purdy, the champion roper of the world and canoe racer at Waikiki.

According to Representative Kuhio in his letter written to Jack Low, it expressed that the President was filled with joy at hearing that Ikua Purdy was actually the one who came away with the name champion of the world at steer roping.

This was the first he found out about the skill of the Hawaiian boys in roping steer, and it was Representative Kuhio who told him that Hawaiians enjoyed this activity for a long time, way before them hearing about the abilities of the boys of Wyoming.

On this past new year’s day, the paniolo boys of Waimea, Hawaii, held a steer-roping contest, with the idea that the boys who are proficeint at that activity would snatch the fame gained by Ikua Purdy, however, Ikua was the fastest at their contest; his time was like nine minutes [? seconds] less than his time in Wyoming.

There were twenty-five Waimea boys entered in this contest, but most of them fell, and Kamaki Lindsey took second place, with a time of fifty-seven seconds to rope, fell, and tie his steer.

(Kuokoa, 1/15/1909, p. 4)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XLVI, Helu 3, Aoao 4. Ianuari 15, 1909.

Another English mele for Ikua Purdy folks, 1908.


From the sun-dried plains of Texas
From the rolling Northern lands,
From East and West they sent their best,
With chap and spur and flying vest,
And lariats in their hands.

From o’er the world came champions,
All strange alike to fear,
Each full of hope his whirling rope
Would be the quickest one to cope
With swiftly-running steer.

Alas! for all those champions—
From far across the sea,
With face all tanned and steady hand,
To meet the best in all the land,
Came our Hawaiian Three.

Aloha, then, to Purdy,
To Archie and Jack Low!
Those ropes may fly in skillful try,
But they must come to fair Hawaii
To learn the way to throw.


(Hawaiian Gazette, 8/25/1908, p. 3)


Hawaiian Gazette, Volume LI, Number 68, Page 3. August 25, 1908.

Mele and more for Ikua Purdy and the lads …in English, 1908.


Purdy, the sturdy, we’ve heard he has won.
For the little old isles of Hawaii,
The world’s roping contest, and what he has done
Is a plum in our promotion pie.

Kaaua took second, while sixth man was Low
In the steer-stringing stunt of the earth,
And it’s up to the cow-catching artists to know
What our lariat laddies are worth.

Three cheers, then, for Purdy, and then just a few
For Archie and Jack, three times three!
The boys of Hawaii who gallantly threw
For the fame of these Gems of the Sea!

A Saturday cable dispatch from Cheyenne, Wyoming, announces that Ikua Purdy of Hawaii won the world’s steer roping championship at the Frontier Day contest on that day and at that place. His time was fifty-six seconds. Archie Kaaua took third place and Jack Low was sixth.

These three men of Hawaii were contesting against the world’s best ropers.

Purdy, here, has a record of 38 3-4 seconds, but conditions differ. In December last, in the Wild West Show [contests at Kapiolani Park Makai Keliilike made 56 1-2 seconds. Angus McPhee holds the present record of 37 2-5 seconds, made at Cheyenne a year ago. Since then he was defeated.

(Hawaiian Star, 8/28/1908, p. 6)


Hawaiian Star, Volume XVI, Number 5117, Page 6. August 24, 1908.

Ikua Purdy in the movies, 1908.


Because the Hawaiian boy Ikua Purdy became champion at the steer roping held at Cheyenne, Wyoming, his picture is being shown in America in movie theaters, and from what is being said, the images of that champion of the world being shown are truly fine and beautiful, as if it actually is him chasing and roping the steer.

In one of the scenes showing the parading of the steer-roping cowboys, the Hawaiian boys are the finest as they don lei about their necks; and these movies are becoming highly acclaimed in lands outside Hawaii.

(Kuokoa, 10/16/1908, p. 8)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XLIII, Helu 42, Aoao 8. Okatoba 16, 1908.

More on the famous paniolo of Waimea, 1908.

The Boys of Waimea are Victorious!

Ikua Purdy is the Champion Roper of the World—Archie Kaaua took 3rd—the American Boys are Weak¹.


Hanohano wale no o Mauna Kea
A ka hau e hoohenoheno nei
Me ka Ua Kipuupuu ame ke anu o Waimea
Me ka Ua Kipuupuu ame ke anu o Waimea

E walea ana paha, e nanea ana paha
I ka hone a ke kai hawanawana
Me ka Ua Kipuupuu ame ke anu o Waimea
Me ka Ua Kipuupuu ame ke anu o Waimea

CHEYENNE, Wyoming, August 22—Ikua Purdy of Hawaii took the name of champion of the world in the roping contest held today for the first time. It took 56 seconds from the release of the steer until it was tied fast. Archie Kaaua [Achie Kaaua] took 3rd, and Jack Low took 6th, and they are all from Hawaii.

The Hawaiian boys took 1st, 3rd, and 6th places in the great contest of Wyoming; this is news which all Hawaiian hearts can be happy about, for the honor garnered by our boys. Many expert ropers showed up, from the forests of the north, the champion of the wire lasso of the rugged plains of Alaska, the experts from the furrowed lands of the far south, the champion rider of the Pampas, the lightning-handed champion of Texas, and so many more; however, all of their knowledge and preparation was overcome by Ikua Purdy. Not one of them was his match, with his swift and skilled lassoing and felling of the steer in short time. 56 seconds was not the fastest time made by Ikua Purdy like the 38 3/4 seconds he achieved at Kapiolani Park some years earlier, however, it should be kept in mind that the conditions there are not the same as ours. McPhee is the one with the fastest time, 37 2/5 seconds gotten at a big contest held in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but from that time to now, he did not make that time again; he was constantly defeated by the Hawaiian boys in contests after that.


Glorious is Mauna Kea
Graced with snow
With the Kipuupuu Rain and the cold of Waimea
With the Kipuupuu Rain and the cold of Waimea

Relaxing at ease
At the soft whispering sea
With the Kipuupuu Rain and the cold of Waimea
With the Kipuupuu Rain and the cold of Waimea

¹I’m not sure if “Lahilahi” here is referring to the American boys being “deflated”…

(Kuokoa Home Rula, 8/28/1908, p. 1)

Lanakila na Keiki o Waimea!

Kuokoa Home Rula, Buke VI, Helu 35, Aoao 1. Augate 28, 1908.

The fame of the Hawaiian paniolo reaches Wyoming, 1908.

The fame of the Hawaiian boys in their lassoing has spread to Wyoming, America, where the steer roping contest is always held, and an invitation was received from there for some Hawaiian Boys to attend. We have no doubts that these Hawaiians will return adorned in victory in the various contests, being that it is clear that the little ability of the haole cannot match that of the Hawaiian boys in this skill. Paiia ke oolea!¹ O Hawaiians, go fetch your glory!

¹Is anyone familiar with the exclamation: “Pai ia ke oolea!”?

(Kuokoa, 6/5/1908, p. 4)

Ua kuʻi aku ke kaulana o na keiki Hawaii...

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XLIII, Helu 23, Aoao 4. Iune 5, 1908.

Famed cowboy Ikuwa Purdy dies, 1945.

Ikuwa Purdy Passes

At 12:15 a. m. on July 4, the incompassionate hands of death reached out and plucked the life breath from the body of Ikuwa Purdy, as per the news received by Eben Low [Epena Low] of Honolulu. Ikuwa Purdy was 72 years old. His funeral will be held on Maui.

Ikuwa Purdy was the head cowboy at the ranch at Ulupalakua, Maui. He became the famous champion of the world in the year 1908 in roping and tying steer at Cheyenne, Wyoming [Waiomina], for speed. He roped and tied two steer at a record speed not achieved by anyone else. That record still stands and has not been broken.

Ikuwa was born in Mana, Waimea, Hawaii, and lived and worked at Parker Ranch [hui hanai holoholona o Paka] in his youth, and then with the Umikoa Ranch, Hamakua, and then he moved to Maui.

One of his proficient pupils at roping and tying cattle is William Kaniho of Waimea.

He left his wife, 9 children, and 3 grandchildren, behind grieving for him.

(Hoku o Hawaii, 7/18/1945, p. 2)

Ua Hala O Ikuwa Purdy

Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Volume XL, Number 12, Page 2. Iulai 18, 1945.