Families that Wrestle Together, Stay Together
While pig wrestling might not be every family’s go-to entertainment source, for Cameron Gulley and his brothers and sons, it’s one of their favorite family pastimes.
He credits his swine handling skills to childhood summers spent on his grandfather’s pig farm in southern Colorado. It was there he got a sense of what makes pigs tick as well as first-hand knowledge of their fast and stealthy skills outmaneuvering humans.
Little did he know that these early lessons would ultimately lead to a winning strategy and pig wrestling fame on the Campbell County Fair stage, where he and his team, Hampions, competed and won for the the first time four years ago.
Their secret? Go for the legs. Catch ’em. Box ’em in. And never let them get around you.
“You need to hit it once and get in there,” he said. “No mess ups. Otherwise, you’ll just be slipping around in the mud.”
As captain of the Hampions, Cameron proudly heads up the family team, which this year will be comprised of his older brother, Preston, and nephews Addison and Seth, both in their mid-twenties. Typically, his son Hunter would be competing, but this year, confusion over dates threw off the family schedule when his younger son’s team won the state little league tournament that now has the family traveling to California next week.
Nonetheless, they’ll be competing in Hunter’s honor as one of the founding members of the family team.
The idea for a pig wrestling team grew out of Cameron’s football coaching experience. At the time, his sons had been playing flag football when Cameron came up with the idea of introducing pigs to help them develop dexterity and flag-grabbing skills. This experimental practice later morphed into a long-standing family joke about putting together a pig wrestling team. Little did he know that such a thing actually existed locally, so when he found out about the annual competition at the Fair, he and his family were all in.
It turned out that the joke was on the family because they were actually super good, winning their first year and placing in the top three subsequent years. This year, they’re going for another first-place win, not that glory is the driving motivation. Because as Cameron pointed out, it’s always fun to run around in the mud and get dirty.
“It’s always serious when you compete, but we definitely do it for enjoyment,” he said.
Better yet, he has enough brothers – six in total – and at least double that many nephews and sons to fill out the team each year, so there will never be a shortage.
As for practicing during the off-season, Cameron joked that they rope in his wife Raeann.
“We just throw her in the middle of the living room and tie her up,” he said.
And though he might be sleeping in the barn with the pigs after this Friday night’s event, he nonetheless is looking forward to a fun, family outing, because as he points out, you need these traditions.
“Whether you’re competitors or spectators,” he said, “it’s important to find something you enjoy and do it together.”
And for the Gulleys, that pastime is getting dirty roping in pigs.
The Pig Wrestling event takes place at 6 p.m. at Morningside Park, with the Calcutta beginning at 4:30 p.m.