“Chuck Norris can hammer a nail into a wall with a roundhouse kick” is just one of the hundreds of invented factoids found in the Internet that exaggerates the toughness, masculinity, strength and prowess of this famous martial artist and actor. While Chuck himself finds these tall tales humorous yet flattering, he hopes that this attention will interest people on the real facts about his life and the hard work and discipline that had made an ordinary man like him a cut above the rest.
Born in Ryan, Oklahoma as Carlos Ray Norris on 10 March 1940, Chuck Norris is of Irish and Cherokee descent. When his parents divorced, he relocated to California with his mother and two younger brothers. Describing his childhood as downbeat, Chuck was scholastically mediocre, shy and non-athletic and often daydreamed about someday beating up other children who taunted him about his mixed ethnicity. In 1958, after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an Air Policeman and was sent to Osan Air Force Base in South Korea where he acquired the nickname “Chuck,” as well as an interest in the Tang Soo Do form of Korean martial arts that later led to black belts.
When Chuck Norris was discharged from the service in 1962, he joined Northrop Aviation and moonlighted as a martial arts instructor. By 1964, he was teaching full-time and was running a chain of karate schools whose students included Hollywood celebrities such as Priscilla Presley, Marie Osmond and Steve McQueen. He became the World Middleweight Karate Champion in 1968 and held the title until he retired undefeated in 1974. He was named by “Black Belt” Magazine as Fighter of the Year and earned the Triple Crown for the most number of tournament wins in 1969. In 1996, Chuck became the first Westerner to be awarded an 8th degree black black in Tae Kwan Do.
Chuck Norris went into films upon the encouragement of his friend and student, Steve McQueen. By skillfully weaving his martial arts skills into his movie themes that emphasize technique over violence and positive action over injustice, Chuck was able to capture the attention and admiration of many viewers all over the world and made many of his films box office hits. One of his biggest breaks into action film was his appearance in “The Way of the Dragon” opposite the late Bruce Lee.
In between his busy schedule, Chuck Norris also works for many charities such as Funds for Kids, The United Way, Veterans Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans, Make a Wish Foundation and KickStart, a high school- based program meant to give at-risk youths a focus in life through martial arts. An anti-drug advocate and an outspoken Christian, he authored several Christian-themed books and promoted Bible study and prayer in public schools in TV commercials and urged the youth to stay away from drugs.
Chuck Norris is an avid Republican and has attended the first inauguration of his close friend, President George W. Bush. He has publicly supported the presidential candidacy of Republican Mike Huckabee and hosted a fundraiser at his Texas ranch where more than 200 people paid $1,000 dollars each for a plate of barbecue and the chance to watch Huckabee play guitar with the band.