I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And thrown thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad,
Just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.
- Muhammad Ali
I think Leo Kuntz could just as easily have said this about his own life - which I just learned came to an end. As a kid growing up in a tiny North Dakota town, he had to fight for respect. In Vietnam he had to fight for his life, having been shot and left for dead in a ditch. He's had to fight with prostate cancer as result of being exposed to Agent Orange. He's had to fight to save the last wild horses of North Dakota called Nokotas. He's lost fingers, been kicked by horses more times than he can remember, and endured a lifetime of bitterly cold winters. It could have made him a bitter man. Instead it made him a tough, soft-spoken, reflective cowboy. He is a hero to me. Heaven better have horses or he ain’t going.
I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me.
- Dylan Thomas
Leo was a beast - tough as nails, broken in body but never in spirit. He was an angel - gentle, kind, a guardian angel to the Nokota horses he is trying to save. He was a madman - because it takes a madman to be passionate and committed to something like the Nokota horses, when there is no money in it, no glory in it, no nothing in it other than it's the right thing to do. He was a hero to me. My heart is broken.