Born in Chicago, Illinois, Ira Murchison was noted for his exceptional speed from the starting block, which earned him a nicknameHuman Sputnik.
Before the MelbourneOlympics, Murchison equalled twice the 100 m world record of 10.2 and ran in Berlin a new world record of 10.1, thus becoming one of the favourites to win the 100 m Olympic gold medal. But at Melbourne, Murchison managed to finish only in a disappointing fourth place. He also ran the leadoff leg of the 4x100 m relay team for the United States, and helped the American team to a gold medal in a world record time of 39.5.
In 1957, Murchison repeated the 100 yd (91 m) world record of 9.3 and, as a Western Michigan University student, won the 1958 NCAA championships in 100 yd (91 m). At the 1963 Pan American Games, Murchison finished third in the 100 m and helped the American 4x100 m relay team to win a gold medal.
During the 1970s, Murchison was the coach of a women's track team in Chicago. One of the women he coached was 1976 Olympic sprinter, Rosalyn Bryant.