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Chuck Norris: Christian Faith and Bio

Feb 08, 2014

“It’s amazing because people come up to me and say, 'Chuck, you’re the luckiest guy in the world to be a world karate champion and a movie and TV star.' When they say this to me, I kind of smile because luck had nothing to do with it; God had everything to do with it.”

Should you enter Chuck Norris’s name into any internet search engine, your results would more than likely include tales such as these:

“If you stare at an American flag long enough, a 3-D image of Chuck Norris will appear.”

 "When a traffic cop stops Chuck Norris, He writes himself a ticket.”

 “Chuck Norris counted to infinity…twice”

This is just a small sampling of the larger than life, Chuck Norris fictional “facts” circulating the web. Though the origin of these tales is unknown, there is little doubt that the lore surrounding Chuck Norris has only increased in recent years. His newfound internet popularity has provided a renewed interest in both the man behind the legends, and the beliefs he holds so dear.

Read on to gain some new insight into those beliefs as well as some background information into the man who “once challenged his reflection to a staring contest..and won.”

Background

Chuck Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. The oldest of three boys, he was born, Carlos Ray Norris Jr., on March 10, 1940. His mother Wilma raised him primarily as a single mother after his father, Ray Norris, left the family following a divorce. Wilma moved the family to California, where Chuck helped her to raise his younger brothers. He was an average student, with little athletic interest, and was often teased due to his mixed Cherokee & Irish heritage. He later spoke of dreaming about beating up all of those students who bullied him.

Following high school graduation in 1958, Chuck married high school girlfriend, Diane, and enrolled in the United States Air Force. He served as a military policeman in South Korea, where he began studying the martial arts practice of Tang Soo Do and going by the nickname, “Chuck.”

After being discharged from the military in 1962, Chuck’s continued interest in martial arts led him to open several karate schools where he served as a full time instructor. While his business was expanding, his family was too, and he became father to three children, Mike in 1962, Dina in 1964, and Eric, in 1965. Chuck also continued to compete in karate tournaments and quickly rose through the ranks to the top of his sport. By 1968 he had captured the Professional World Full-Contact Middleweight Karate Champion title, and managed to hold onto it until retiring, undefeated, from the competition in 1974.

Hollywood Comes Calling

At the time of his retirement, Chuck Norris was 34 years old and experiencing great professional success. He was the owner of over 32 karate schools and worked as a private instructor to numerous celebrities including, Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds, and the legendary Steve McQueen. It was McQueen who encouraged Norris to try his hand at acting, reportedly saying, “If you can’t do anything else, there’s always acting.” Chuck had already had bit parts in two films, The Wrecking Crew (1969), and The Fury of the Dragon in 1972, but decided to pursue the profession more ardently following his conversation with the Hollywood superstar. In 1973, he met martial arts legend Bruce Lee, and went on to star with him in the 1973 film, Return of the Dragon.

By 1977, Chuck Norris was quickly becoming a leading man in the world of action entertainment. His first starring role was in 1977’s, Breaker! Breaker!, and though not a critical success, helped to launch Norris as a bankable Hollywood action star. Subsequent films included, The Octagon, Lone Wolf McQuade, and Missing in Action, though that was only the beginning of a career in which Norris would go on to star in over 23 motion pictures.

When his movie career began to dwindle, Norris switched formats and entered the world of television, starring in the phenomenally successful series, Walker, Texas Ranger. The show ran for eight years and 203 episodes, eventually becoming the most successful Saturday night program since Gunsmoke. It is still running in over 80 countries worldwide.

Norris recently made a cameo appearance in the hit film, The Expendables 2, and frequently parodies his cult internet status on talk shows such as, Late Night with Conan O’ Brien.

Christian Influence

Chuck Norris was raised by a Christian mother who encouraged him to develop his faith. He gave himself to the Lord at the age of 12, and was even fortunate enough to attend a crusade with Billy Graham around the same time. Though the foundation of his faith was laid at a young age, Norris strayed from his beliefs as his career began to flourish, even fathering a daughter of an extramarital affair and eventually divorcing his first wife, Diane. Referencing this time in his life, Chuck says:

“Unfortunately, a lot of times in the entertainment industry, sometimes you lose sight of what’s really important in your life. I lost a marriage because of it.”

Chuck recommitted himself to Christ while living with his second wife, Gina, and credits their relationship with resetting them on track spiritually, both as a couple, and in their personal relationships with the Lord. Since that time, the Norris family has grown to welcome their twin daughters, Dakota and Danilee. His love for children led him, along with wife Gina, to create the Kickstart foundation, with the purpose of “building strong moral character in youth through martial arts training.” Since its creation, Kickstart has been implemented in over 6,500 schools. Chuck says that, through his foundation, he has been able to encourage kids with positive affirmations and biblical principles:

“The martial arts is a philosophy that is pretty much the principles in the Bible. Even though we can’t talk about Jesus, we can talk about what Jesus talks about in the Bible – love, loving your neighbor, being good people. Even though we can’t quote Scripture, we can say what Jesus says in the Bible or what the Apostle Paul says or what St. Peter says. We can say that in an indirect way, which we do.”

In the entertainment industry, Chuck is known for his outspoken beliefs and refusal to back down to Hollywood pressures. He has made a point to promote Christian films, most notably Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ, and speaks openly about his faith on the talk show circuit, as well as in his writings for independent news site, WorldNetDaily.com.

Check out this video where Chuck talks about the need for Hollywood to find faith in God

Final Thoughts

Chuck Norris is a man of strong convictions. He believes that the negativity in his early years helped to create the motivation he needed to succeed. He believes that martial arts can be a valuable tool in building self-esteem and personal discipline. He believes that it was only through the grace of God that he achieved the level of success he holds today. And he believes that it is our duty as Christians to use whatever platform we have to spread the message of Christ. In an industry where speaking about your faith can bring negative repercussions, Chuck Norris had proven himself to be a true action hero:

“It’s amazing because people come up to me and say, 'Chuck, you’re the luckiest guy in the world to be a world karate champion and a movie and TV star.' When they say this to me, I kind of smile because luck had nothing to do with it; God had everything to do with it.”

Another related article to check out: 9 Famous Christian Actors

photo credit: Aaron Webb via photopin cc

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