Dunker, l at.jpg
Induction Category & YearSports 1991
Home TownWarner, SD
Warner, SD
Warner, SD

   Leigh Dunker
Champion of Excellence

 Leigh Dunker became a legend in horseshoe pitching both in South Dakota and across the nation. He won his first State Tournament of Horse Shoe Pitching at the young age of nineteen and went on to win the title of South Dakota State Horse Shoe Pitching Champion thirty-five different years. He is the best horseshoe pitcher in the state of South Dakota in the last five decades.

Dunker became interested in pitching horseshoes by watching his father pitch shoes. They had stakes out in the yard between the house and the barn. Every morning when Dunker and his father went to the barn to feed the horses they would pick up their horse shoes and pitch them to the other stake and on the way back for breakfast they would pitch them back. This is how Leigh got started with horseshoe pitching at the age of seven. <p>The South Dakota State Tournament of Horse Shoe Pitchers began in 1929 and lured Dunker to compete. He won his first tournament in 1934. At age twenty he set the highest record of 119 since the tournament began. He won eleven 50-point match games without a loss. He set new state records in 1940 – Highest Ringer Percent Qualifying – 84%, Highest Ringer Percent one game – 87%, and Highest Ringer Percent one tournament – 71.2%. <p>The title of South Dakota State Horse Shoe Pitcher Champion at the Tournament went to Dunker 35 times from 1934 to 1989. In 1960 he set new records of most ringers one game of 72 and most “4 deads” one game of 15. <p>Sports Illustrated magazine wrote an article about Dunker for their magazine in 1974 and he received a Sports Illustrated Award of Merit. The South Dakota Sports Writers Association in 1975 also recognized him as the South Dakota Independent Athlete of the Year. <p>“Leigh Dunker was to horse shoe pitching what Willie Shoemaker was to horse racing and what Jack Nicklaus is to golf.” (Aberdeen American News, 1986)

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