We all know about the legendary toughness of Chuck Norris.
- Chuck Norris can cut through a hot knife with butter
- Death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience
- Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird
But is Chuck Norris really the toughest man who ever lived?
Not if you ask the members of an elite group of martial artists who out-kicked, out-punched and out-Norrissed Norris at karate tournaments in the 1960s.
Here’s a look back at the men who can rightfully claim they beat up Chuck Norris, including some little known “facts” about their remarkable badassedness.
In the late 1960s, Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis were engaged in one of the most intense martial arts rivalries of all time (not counting Shinobi versus the level-9 boss). Norris had already proven his karate dominance by defeating Lewis at three consecutive tournaments. Then Lewis got his revenge in the finals of the 1968 U.S. Championships. Norris was already battered with a broken nose from a previous fight in the tournament, and Lewis finished him off with a nasty punch to the solar plexus.
Lewis was supposedly the original choice to portray the nefarious character Colt in Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon, but some behind-the-scenes bickering led to Norris being picked for the role instead. That breakout role is part of the reason Chuck Norris is a household name and Joe Lewis is not.
Here’s footage from one of their earlier fights.
Fact: When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Joe Lewis.
In July 1966, Norris collided with Allen Steen in the Grand Championship match of Ed Parker’s Long Beach International Karate Championships. Steen, who has become known as the “Father of Texas Blood and Guts Taekwondo,” gave Norris a serious pummeling.
Here’s some unwatchable footage from one of their showdowns. The blob of pixels on the right is Norris. Or maybe he’s the blocky smudge on the left.
Fact: Allen Steen drinks napalm to soothe his heartburn.
On Feb. 4, 1968, Norris competed in the East Coast versus West Coast Karate Championships, held in New York. Although Norris was a member of the winning team (the West Coast squad), he came up short against Louis Delgado, who was known for his speed and explosive power.
Fact: When you open a can of whoop-ass, Louis Delgado jumps out.
Chuck Norris didn’t like to lose. Sometimes after suffering an embarrassing defeat, he would set his sights on a rematch — and would almost always win. Except against Tony Tulleners. By all accounts, Tulleners was one tough dude — so tough that Norris just couldn’t figure out how to score a victory over him. Tullerners most notably clobbered Norris during the Finals of the 1966 California State Karate Championships in San Francisco.
Although practically nobody remembers Tulleners anymore — he appeared in a few movies, all of which were terrible, even for chop-socky flicks — he remains one of the people on earth to have vanquished the almighty Chuck.
Fact: Crop circles are Tony Tulleners’ way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie the f*** down.
This guy beat Chuck Norris during the prelims of the Tang Soo Do Invitational Tournament, in the autumn of 1966 in Washington, D.C.
That’s pretty much everything the Internet seems to know about him. But really, isn’t that enough?
Fact: John Camanse eats Transformers toys in vehicle form and poops them out as robots.
According to an article in a 1967 issue of Black Belt Magazine, the only person to defeat Chuck Norris at that year’s Tournament of Champions in New York was a scrappy and basically unknown competitor named Bob Engle. The 27-year-old father of three was notable for “furiously smoking cigarettes” between fights. Badass.
Fact: Bob Engle counted to infinity. Twice.
Details on this one are exceedingly scarce, but a handful of sources seem to indicate that a martial artist by the name of Marcos Solar defeated Chuck Norris at the Kini K. Wang Tournament in 1967.
This record was cited in Black Belt Magazine, which is the bible of competitive martial arts, so we’ll take it as gospel.
Fact: The sun rises and sets when Marcos Solar tells it to.
In 1968, Dave Krieger and Chuck Norris reportedly squared off in a tournament between Hawaii and the American mainland. Krieger, presumably representing Hawaii (he founded a karate dojo in Honolulu in the mid-1960s), scored a win over the man who would become Walker Texas Ranger.
That’s him in the middle of the photo below. Although that’s not Chuck Norris on the left, perhaps the dude was chosen as a sparring partner due to his awesome, Norris-esque beard.
Fact: Some magicians can walk on water; Dave Krieger can swim through land.