What’s the story behind Bruce Lee’s friendship with Chuck Norris, and did the two fight in real life? Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris are both icons in the martial arts world, but are completely different in terms of their fighting styles. Norris is a world champion in karate, while Lee is an expert in kung fu who trained in Wing Chun and formed his own style, Jeet Kune Do, in the 1960s.
Lee and Norris engaged in a legendary showdown in Golden Harvest’s Way of the Dragon, which served as the third movie in Lee’s martial arts career and Norris’ first credited appearance on the big screen. Norris received second billing, despite having very little speaking lines and only appearing near the conclusion of the film. Chuck Norris’ Colt was a fighter sent to face off against Bruce Lee’s character in an epic, one-on-one fight at the Colosseum in Rome. Their nearly ten-minute battle, which showed Lee and Norris making actual contact with several of their punches, is considered by to be one of the most intense and well-choreographed fight scenes in the history of the martial arts genre. Since Norris’ Colt was the antagonist, the fight ended with Lee getting the win.
The popularity of their fight and the reputation of both actors has often led fans to wondering if they had ever fought each other in real life. This is also a question that Chuck Norris is frequently asked in interviews about his relationship with Lee. The two met in 1968 at a karate tournament and became friends. For a period of about two years, Lee and Norris trained and worked out together in Norris’ backyard. According to Norris, their training together never involved an actual fight, but he has admitted in the past that some “sparring” did occur in their training.
However, Norris has avoided elaborating on what occurred during these sparring sessions, claiming that it didn’t go far enough to be called a real fight. Norris has said that fighting wasn’t something that either martial artist wanted. Unsurprisingly, Norris has also declined to answer whenever he’s asked about who would win between them.
There have long been rumors that Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris actually did have a secret match in a hallway somewhere, but based on what Norris has said, this never happened. Regardless, these rumors have persisted and continue to go unverified. Because of their Way of the Dragon fight and the skills of both actors, fans to this day continue to debate the winner of a hypothetical Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris match. Many feel that Lee’s speed – which Norris himself has repeatedly praised – would be enough to overwhelm Norris, while others feel that the karate champion’s strength and size would prevail against the kung fu legend.