The internet is a great place to find out all the facts about your favorite celebrities—unless, of course, that celebrity is Chuck Norris. For Norris fans, the internet is a minefield of lies, jokes, memes, and outright nonsense. So how do you sort the real from the fake? Well, you read our rundown of very real Norris facts you didn’t know. You’re welcome, internet!
The Rip Scene That Went Too Far On Yellowstone
Chuck Norris is famous for playing badass military men in films like Missing in Action, but that isn’t all Hollywood movie magic. In fact, Norris did actually serve in the military, joining the Air Force at the age of 18. His four-year stint proved to be life-changing; while serving at the Osan Air Base in South Korea, Norris took his first martial arts lessons, in Tang Soo Do. The rest, like so many of Chuck’s big-screen bad guys, is history.
Norris has played a lot of roles over the course of his career, but one role you may not be familiar with is Carlos Norris. Yep, that’s Chuck’s real name! In his autobiography Against All Odds: My Story, Norris revealed that he got the nickname of “Chuck” while serving in the Air Force in South Korea, but he was born with the name Carlos, in honor of his dad’s minister. It doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?
He was the karate world champion
After returning to the United States following his honorable discharge from the military, Chuck Norris opened a karate school and started participating in national competitions. People might forget now, but he started as a bona fide karate master: by the end of the 1960s, he had risen to become the middleweight professional karate champion of the world. His success caught the attention of stars like Bruce Lee and Steve McQueen, who encouraged him to go into acting.
His brother died in Vietnam
Norris’ most famous film role is Colonel James Braddock, the former POW who returns to Vietnam to save his captive comrades in Missing in Action and its sequels. That story was very personal for Norris: his younger brother Wieland Norris was killed in Vietnam in 1970. As Chuck later wrote, Wieland met his end “while leading his squad through dangerous enemy territory. He had spotted an enemy patrol laying a trap and was trying to warn his men when the Vietcong cut him down.” Norris dedicated Missing in Action to his brother’s memory.
He had his own comic book
By the mid-’80s, Norris had become a household name through the success of his action films, and quickly parlayed that notoriety into his own cartoon and comic books. Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos hit the airwaves in 1986 and immediately tanked, with only five episodes completed before the whole project was canned. But that was still enough for Marvel Comics to put out an adaptation of the series. The comic focused more on Chuck himself, which seems like a recipe for success, but wasn’t: the publisher pulled the plug after just four issues. Man, what was wrong with kids in the ’80s?
He was a semi-professional speedboat racer
In his spare time from saving the world and avenging evil, Chuck Norris has another passion: speedboat racing. In the late ’80s, Norris got into the high-powered and highly dangerous sport alongside fellow action stars Kurt Russell and Don Johnson. Why did he enjoy racing speedboats? “I do it for kicks,” he told People magazine before one race. “And right now I’m looking forward to kicking some butt.” Heck yeah!
He’s in the Karate Hall of Fame
According to Chuck Norris himself, perhaps his greatest achievement in martial arts was becoming “The first man ever in the Western Hemisphere to be awarded an 8th degree Black Belt Grand Master recognition in the Tae Kwon Do system. This was a first in 4,500 years of tradition—something that still humbles me to the core of my being.” Norris has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, including the International Karate & Kickboxing Hall of Fame.
He campaigned for president
In the eyes of his most ardent fans, Chuck Norris would seem like one of the most logical candidates for President of the United States in our nation’s history. But Chuck himself doesn’t think so. In 2007, Norris began a new role as a blogger and political activist, appearing alongside Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at major events. It didn’t actually help Huckabee win anything, but that hasn’t deterred Norris, who continued to campaign for Huckabee during the subsequent presidential election cycle. Hey, keep the faith, man!