Chuck Norris - The Early Days

Wally, Kathy Garver (Star of TV series "Family Affair" 1966-71)
Chuck Norris and AAU Official at
Fund Raiser for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team

Iím Wally Emery.
I met Chuck when I was divisional Manager for Jack LaLanne.  Chuck wanted a membership with our health studio and at that point in time he was short on money.  I was always interested in martial arts, so I offered him and his wife. Dianne a membership, if he taught me and my manager George Dolby, karate.

Chuck and his Black Belts would have full use of the health spa after hours. After about six months working together, I suggested we start a chain of karate Les Josephson Los Angeles Rams Running Backstudios, and we did, I was president and general manager, Chuck was Vice president, and Chucks Mother In-law Evelyn Halacheck was my executive secretary, and her son Mark was my manager at our Torrance karate studio.  Together we built six Karate studios.
I contacted a good friend and top P.R. agent in Beverly Hills.  Ed Shaw and we were the first to produce karate T.V. commercials.  One featuring Les Josephson, the top running back for the L.A. Rams.  I was conditioning trainer for the L.A. Kings hockey team and between the Ramís and the Kingís support and help, if not for them, I donít think we would have made it. 

A few months later, a former part owner of Jack LaLanne's health spas, who I had a bad business experience with bought controlling interest in Chuck Norris Karate Studios. At that point in time, for personnel reasons, and not getting the stock promised by him when he was with  Jack Lalanne, I could not work with him and I immediately tendered my resignation.  Approximately six months later the studios went under.  Most of the managers bought the studios and continued to operate up to now.

Chuck started his motion picture career with Breaker Breaker, a low budget film featuring most of our Black Belts.  Then came his great break Texas Ranger. The rest is history.

I received my Black Belt under Vic Martonov, my personnel instructor, and he was the President of Tang Soo Do, when I was president of Chuck Norris Karate Studios. Vic is currently the highest ranking Black Belt in our style in the U.S.

I started promoting kick boxing.  I started in small arenas, I worked with a lot of good friends who helped me promote successful fights.  I would like to thank all my friends for their support, in particular Grand Master Rey Maldonando.  In the early days, he supplied my fighters from the small areas to Las Vegas.  Thanks Rey.

I was the firs promoter to pay purses to fighters.  I am on the permanent Advisory Committee for the California State Athletic committee and member of the Nevada Athletic committee; I was also awarded the Presidential sports award from President Richard Nixon.

I was the first promoter to hold a kick boxing event at the Forum, the home of the L.A. Lakers and the L.A. Kings.  There has never been an event since.

I was the first promoter to bring the Japanese to the U.S. for a world title fight at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.  At the time I was setting up the Las Vegas fight, Ed Parker, Elvis Presley's karate instructor, called and wanted me to help him body guard Elvis in Hawaii.  Elvis fired Sonny and Red and said that he needed help.  I would have gone to in a minute but I was under contract with the Dunes Hotel.  Unfortunately, that was Elvis's last show.

For more information, check my web site menu for information on my new book with co-author Patrick Rhoades M.D. "it's not too late to feel great".  Check ... search Wally Emery.


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