Chuck Norris profile
Chuck Norris

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ALSO: See how Chuck Norris’ Cordell Walker fared in our Badass Bracket!

Credit Steve McQueen for encouraging Chuck Norris to try acting. The rest is not just history, but the stuff of legend. Of Irish and Cherokee descent, Norris was born Carlos Ray Norris in Oklahoma in 1940. It was in Korea while Norris was in the Air Force where he began to fall in love with the ways of martial arts, learning Tang Soo Do and becoming a master of it soon enough. He honed his skills through the 1960s, opening martial arts schools along the way. In 1969, Norris was named Fighter of the Year by Black Belt Magazine and began a six year streak as the Professional Middleweight Karate champion. He would retire as champion in 1974.

It was in “Way of the Dragon” where Norris met Bruce Lee. The two dueled in epic confrontations in the 1972 film, and thus began Norris’ rise to the top of the action star heap. Knocking out a couple of early features in the late 1970s, it was the 1980s where Norris came into his own while flummoxing his opponents. He’s Braddock in the “Missing in Action” series, along with memorable action performances in “Code of Silence” and “Delta Force.” But it wasn’t until the 1990s when the Norris methodology of using martial arts and entertainment perfectly fused, resulting in one of television’s genuine phenomena: the Norris-created Texas Ranger Cordell Walker of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” running on CBS from 1993 – 2001. In 1997, Norris was awarded the rare honor of being ranked as an 8th Degree Black Belt Grand Master, the only Westerner in history to achieve this.

He became a born again Christian and supporter of the Republican Party. He’s mythical in pop culture, his “Chuck Norris Facts” often circulating in mass forwarded emails to the delight of many – including Norris himself. He’s contributed his likeness to video games, authored several books, and created his own martial art (Chun Kuk Do). We could list plenty of other exhaustive facts about Chuck Norris, but we’ll leave you with one basic truth: Chuck Norris is not a legend. He is legend.

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Chuck on the Web

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Chuck on the Screen

Credit Bruce Lee to putting Chuck Norris on the map. He’s Lee’s nemesis Colt in “Way of the Dragon” in 1972. In 1974, he’s Chuck Slaughter in “Slaughter vs. San Francisco,” John David ‘J.D.’ Dawes in “Breaker! Breaker!,” and John T. Booker in “Good Guys Wear Black.” The following decade was Norris’ breakout era. He’s J.J. McQuade in “Lone Wolf McQuade,” Colonel James Braddock in three “Missing in Action” pictures, Eddie Cusack in “Code of Silence,” and Major Scott McCoy in “The Delta Force.” He’s a one-man army in “Invasion U.S.A.,” plays the dual roles of Cliff Garret and Danny Grogan in his brother’s film “The Hitman,” and is Frank Shatter in “Hellbound.” By 1995, Norris was regularly appearing as Walker on TV, but he was also showing up in film too. He’s the title character in “Top Dog,” counterterrorist Joshua McCord twice in two TV films, and most recently he’s John Shepherd in “The Cutter.”

Chuck Says

On perseverance:
“Whatever luck I had, I made. I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues in sweat and concentration and took the time necessary to learn karate and become world champion.”

On men:
“Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.”

On his last resort:
“Violence is my last option.”

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