The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Leigh Dunker - Inducted 2000

It's probably safe to say that few, if any, have dominated a sport like Leigh Dunker did in horseshoes. The Warner farmer was the state champion a phenomenal 35 times. So amazing were Dunker's feats that they were chronicled in a story in Sports Illustrated in 1974. Dunker was born March 23, 1915, in rural Warner. He spent his entire life on the family farm. Dunker started playing horseshoes at age 7 or 8, learning by watching his dad. They had stakes in the yard between the house and barn, and every morning when they went to the barn to feed and harness the horses they would pitch horseshoes, and on the way back for breakfast they would pitch them back. Dunker, a left-hander, won his first state title in 1934 at age 19. Between 1934 and 1989 he won those 35 state championships. Dunker never entered a world championship tournament because it was at harvest time, but many believe he was capable of competing with the best in the world. Eight of his titles came after he reached age 60. In 1940 he set state records for highest ringer percentage in qualifying (84 percent), in one game (87 percent) and in one tourney (71.2 percent) - records that still stand. Dunker, who also was active in amateur baseball and bowling, was named the state's Independent Athlete of the Year for 1975, the year he won his 25th state title.

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