Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist and actor. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began his rise to fame as a martial artist and has since founded his own school, Chun Kuk Do. As a result of his “tough guy” image, an Internet phenomenon began in 2005 known as Chuck Norris facts, ascribing various implausible or even impossible feats to Norris.
Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. He is the son of Wilma (née Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was a mechanic, bus driver, and truck driver. Norris has said that he has Irish and Cherokee Native American ancestry. Norris was named after Carlos Berry, his father’s minister.
He joined the U. S. Air Force as an Air Policeman (AP) in 1958 and was sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea. It was there that Norris acquired the nickname Chuck and began his training in Tang Soo Do (tangsudo), an interest that led to black belts in that art and the founding of the Chun Kuk Do (“Universal Way”) form. He created the education associations “United Fighting Arts Federation” and “Kick Start” (formerly “Kick Drugs Out of America”), a middle school and high school–based program intended to give at-risk children a focus point in life through the martial arts. When he returned to the United States, he continued to act as an AP at March Air Force Base, California. Norris was discharged in August 1962. He worked for the Northrop Corporation and opened a chain of karate schools including a storefront school in his then-hometown of Torrance on Hawthorne Boulevard. Norris’ official website lists celebrity clients at the schools; among them Steve McQueen, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley , Donny and Marie Osmond.
Norris was defeated in his first two tournaments,however by 1967. In early 1968, Norris suffered the tenth and last loss of his career, losing an upset decision to Louis Delgado. On November 24, 1968, he avenged his defeat to Delgado and by doing so won the Professional Middleweight Karate champion title, which he held for six consecutive years. In 1969, he won Karate’s triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt Magazine. Chuck Norris retired with a karate record of 183–10–2.
In 1969, Norris made his acting debut in the Dean Martin film ‘The Wrecking Crew’. At a martial arts demonstration in Long Beach, Norris met the soon-to-be famous martial artist Bruce Lee. In 1972 he acted as Lee’s nemesis in the movie ‘Way of the Dragon’ (titled Return of the Dragon in its U.S. distribution), which is widely credited with launching him toward stardom. In Asia, Norris is still known primarily for this role.
Norris’ first starring role was 1977’s ‘Breaker! Breaker!’, and subsequent films such as ‘Good guys Wear Black’ (1978), ‘The Octagon’ (1980), ‘An Eye for an Eye’ (1981), ‘Forced Vengeance’ (1982) and ‘Lone Wolf McQuade’ (1983) proved his increasing box office bankability. In 1984, Norris starred in ‘Missing in Action’, the first of a series of prisoner of war rescue fantasies themed around the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue that were produced by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, released under their Cannon Films banner. Contrary to reports, Norris publicly said he was never offered the part of the Sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo in the film ‘The Karate Kid’.
Over the next four years, Norris became Cannon’s most prominent star, appearing in eight films, including ‘Code of Silence’, ‘Invasion USA’ (both 1985), ‘The Delta Force’ (1986) and sequels to that and Missing in Action. Many of the aforementioned films were produced by Chuck Norris’s brother Aaron, as were several episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger.
He next played the starring role in the television series ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, from 1993 to 2001. Norris is a devout Christian and politically conservative. He has written several books on Christianity and donated to a number of Republican candidates and causes. In 2007 and 2008, he campaigned for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who was running for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. Norris also writes a column for the conservative website WorldNetDaily. He has agreed to feature in ‘The Expendables 2’.