Ira Akers was born June 13, 1933 in San Antonio, Texas to Jess and Leona Akers. He participated in his father’s weekend rodeo. He attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Competing at Sul Ross in 1953 he won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Bull Riding Championship, 3rd place in the Bareback Bronc Riding, and Sul Ross team won 2nd overall at the college finals.
In 1954 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA. he placed 3rd in the Bareback Bronc Riding and 3rd in the Bull Riding giving him 5th place in the All- Around Championship. Ira married Gayle Dyer from Baird, Texas and transferred to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In 1955 at Lake Charles, LA. he made history by winning the Championship in all 3 of his events, Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding, and the All-Around Cowboy Championship. As of today he is still the only contestant to ever win 4 event titles. In 1956 at Colorado Springs, CO. he missed out on having a repeat year by winning 2nd in the Bareback Bronc Riding. He went on to win the Championship Title in the Saddle Bronc, Bull Riding and the Men’s All-Around Cowboy Championship, and the Sam Houston State University Men’s team Championship. Ira continued to compete at a professional level winning big rodeos such as Madison Square Garden, San Antonio and many others. He purchased a ranch in Clyde, TX and began farming and ranching.
In 1958, Ira, along with Jim Shoulders, Neal Gay, D.J. (Kajun Kid) Gaudin, Harry, Tompkins and Bob Grant started the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. Ira decided to retire and settle into ranching in 1960 after breaking his ankle at Cheyenne Frontier Days. In 1970 he joined ventures with Harry Tompkins and started a cattle dairy in Dublin, TX.
On February 11, 1974 Ira was killed in an explosion near his ranch. He left behind his wife Gayle and four children. Ira Jr. (Ikey), Barbara, Brenda and Archie. At a ceremony during the 1988 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV, Ira was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum housed in Oklahoma City, OK. As a fallen volunteer fireman his name can also be found on the Texas State Capitol Volunteer Fireman Memorial.