Man of steel, martial-arts expert and movie hero Chuck Norris (1940-) was born Carlos Ray on this day in Ryan, Oklahoma, the eldest of three boys. His Irish-English mother raised him after his Cherokee father left the family. Norris is the first to admit it was a rough childhood.
"If I had said, 'I don't stand a chance,' one thing is clear: I wouldn't have," he said.
Right after high school, Norris joined the Air Force and discovered martial arts while stationed in Korea. Once his three year stint was through, he taught karate for 15 years and held the Professional World Middleweight Karate Championship title from 1968 until 1974.
"Violence is my last option," explained the cult hero.
The sparring partner of Bruce Lee and teacher to Steve McQueen, he followed McQueen's sound advice and tried show business. With over twenty films, the television hit, Walker, Texas Ranger (eight years and 203 episodes), and cameo in the hit Dodgeball (2004), Norris has proven he is truly made out of Hollywood steel.
"Every time you accomplish a goal you develop the strength and wisdom to accomplish the next one. Success begets success," he advised. "Keep focused on it and don't let anything get in your way."
Hold on to your temper.