Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris was born March 10, 1940, in Ryan, Okla. At 18, he joined the U.S. Air Force and was sent to South Korea where he began studying Tang Soo Do.
Over the year Norris began competing in Karate tournaments and eventually developed his own derivative of Tang Soo Do, called Chun Kuk Do.
In 1969, Norris won Karate’s triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt Magazine.
It was also in 1969 when Norris made his acting debut in a little flick called “The Wrecking Crew” with Dean Martin. It wasn’t until 1977 he had his first starring role in a film called “Breaker! Breaker!”.
However, it was his films after that, movies such as “Good Guys Wear Black”, “The Octagon”, “An Eye for an Eye”, and “Lone Wolf McQuade”, that made him a bona fide action hero and made every young boy in America a martial arts fan.
For most young men in America, the two great early martial arts heroes in film were Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee, and like Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, fans everywhere would argued over who was the best.
Their fight scene together at the Colosseum in Rome in “Way of the Dragon” (“Return of the Dragon” in the U.S.) is still looked at as one of the all-time great martial arts movie fights.
In 2005, Norris created the World Combat League (WCL), a full-contact kickboxing organization whose best claim to fame from an MMA perspective, is that it helped produce current UFC heavyweight striking phenom Pat Barry.
My own personal love of martial arts can be directly traced back to those early Norris films from the late 70’s and 80’s. At first, it inspired me to begin imitating the moves and practicing on my own and eventually led me to my first Karate class.
In a strange sort of way, I may not be doing what I am today if it was not for Chuck Norris. And for that sir, I thank you.
Happy Birthday Chuck!