Inducted in 2010
World Champion Bareback Bronc Rider Eddy Akridge was born in 1927 on a working cattle ranch near Pampa, Texas. The son of a rodeo cowboy, the 5’ 9” 155-pound Akridge entered his first amateur rodeo in Meade, Kansas, in 1946. In 1948, Eddy joined the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association, now PRCA), holding RCA Card # 376. Prior to specializing in bronc riding events, Akridge also rode bulls and competed in bulldogging and calf roping contests. His post-World War II rodeo career paralleled an era rodeo historians call the “Golden Age” of the sport.
For fifteen years, Eddy Akridge rose to world-class status, competing alongside legendary cowboys like Casey Tibbs, Deb Copenhaver, Marty Wood, Bill Linderman, and Jim Shoulders (all ERHOF Inductees). In addition to his world titles, Akridge regularly won day money, bareback and saddle bronc championships, and all-around titles at Calgary, Pendleton, Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, Phoenix, Salinas (CA), Fort Worth, Red Bluff (CA), Joseph (OR), Lewiston (ID), and of course Ellensburg.
According to a 1950s RCA press release, Akridge tried to size up the broncs before he drew them. He preferred “mean buckers” he had ridden before, but “if he had no chance to ride [them] he’d at least like to see someone else try before he rides. Scouting a bucking horse, he says, gives him a chance to figure him out a bit.” Eddy recalled one of the toughest broncs he ever rode was “Miss Klamath,” from the stock of Oregon’s Christensen Brothers (1999 ERHOF Inductees).
The 1950s proved to be Akridge’s heyday despite constant injuries. A bruised knee cartilage laid him up for nearly three months in 1950, as did a bruised liver in ‘53; torn knee ligaments put him in a steel brace and out of competition throughout the 1957 and ’58 seasons. Overcoming excruciating pain, Akridge ultimately won an impressive four World Bareback Bronc Riding titles (’53, ’54, ’55, ’61). His achievement has been surpassed by only one cowboy, Joe Alexander (ERHOF Inductee, 2005).
In Ellensburg, Eddy Akridge won the ‘Bares’ in ’51 and ’53. Then in 1956, he enjoyed huge success, winning both the Saddle and Bareback Bronc titles to become the Ellensburg Rodeo All-Around Champion Cowboy. Akridge kept up his momentum for two more weeks, winning enough day money and titles in Walla Walla, Lewiston, and Pendleton to claim his first “Big Four” crown in 1956. Notably, Akridge’s greatest Ellensburg victories came on grass; 1956 was the last year for the rodeo’s turf arena (Pendleton’s arena floor remains grass to this day).
Eddy Akridge retired from professional rodeo in 1968. A father with four children, he supported his family in Las Vegas as a musician and professional card dealer. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Eddy played rhythm guitar and sang lead for the Gold Buckle Band; he recorded several records. Eddy Akridge has been inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City) in 1977 and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (Colorado Springs) in 1979.