Good Guys Smoke Cigars
Chuck Norris uses martial arts and profits from his Lone Wolf cigars to help steer kids straight.
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98
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"Our kids grew up and my wife and I started going in different directions. She started her career and doing her thing and I was going my way," Norris says, pausing and growing introspective. "It seems like every five years in a marriage you have to readjust. If you can't make that readjustment then it's not going to last, and I found that to be true in my marriage. Seemed like every five years, Dianne and I had to kind of regroup and rearrange our relationship--and we did it for 30 years. Unfortunately, that last five-year period, it just didn't work out; but we're still friends. It was tough to leave someone that is such a big part of your life, who is extremely instrumental in your success. I would never have been as successful as I am today without Dianne."
His busy schedule and the pressures of celebrity continue to exact a cost. "My last relationship dissolved because I didn't have enough of a private life and she couldn't have enough of a private life, and she couldn't deal with only sharing a small part of my life. At this point in my life, I have a lot of things that I want to accomplish, and to accomplish them takes a lot of time," Norris says, but he adds, "I like companionship. I don't really like being alone or coming home to an empty house."
At 58, Norris is comfortable with the idea of growing older. "Sometimes I can see myself as an 85-year-old man with a walker, yelling 'Halt!' The thing for me is that age is in the mind. I don't feel old. I feel like I'm still a kid. I can kick as well as I've ever been able to kick. And I can still do everything I did when I was a fighter. And to be truthful, I think I look better now than I did when I was in my 30s. Maybe it's because I know how to take care of myself better than I did in those days; I trained like such a fanatic then. Age is strictly a chronological thing. If you feel young, you're gonna be young."
Norris credits meditation, as well as martial arts, for keeping him balanced. "Learning to meditate was a very enlightening experience for me. It really helped me in focusing. I've been able to accomplish the things that I have by focusing. I don't give up. I just go for it."
Time spent on his ranch, away from the pressures of filming "Walker" in Dallas, is also one of the ways that he can unwind. Happily showing off his cows, llamas, sheep and a bottle-raised 2,000-pound bull named Baby, Norris is at peace. "I come here and I can get into the gym and work out. I can get on my horse and ride. So there are all kinds of ways for me to kind of pull back and recharge and get my center back. It's real hard in this business to keep yourself centered, because there are always so many different things going on that you have to deal with."
What Norris does at the end of a hard day of shooting is unwind with a good cigar: a Lone Wolf, of course. "A cigar is about relaxation for me. After work, I like to sit in my backyard and go over the day's activities in my mind. I like to do that with a cigar in my hand. What I did do, what I didn't do and what I should have accomplished. A cigar gives me a chance to relax and think."
And to wax philosophical. "I've been down and I've been up," he says. "The downs make you appreciate the ups. That's what life is, trials and tribulations. And you can never go back to your past; you've got to move on. When I was a fighter, I was a fighter at that time. I don't miss the ring anymore. I don't want to get all beat up and bruised and all that. I get enough of that doing my own stunts on the show. I've already been there and done that. I've had my accolades in that area of my life and it's time for some new challenges."
One of those challenges is Kick Drugs Out of America. "Gangs are becoming a cancer in America. Every town, large and small, has a gang in it. If we don't do something and give children another direction to go, to belong, we're in big trouble. It's all a matter of belonging. And raising self esteem."
Ever the pragmatist, Chuck Norris weighs the cost of his program against its benefits. "It costs our foundation approximately $400 a year per child and we have approximately 150 kids in each school in the program, so you're talking approximately $60,000 per year to sponsor a school. If this child grows up, gets into trouble and goes to prison, it's gonna cost our society $50,000 a year to keep him in jail. It's an investment to help get this kid on the right track so we don't have to pay our tax dollars to support this child as a prisoner."
Children enter the program as sixth graders and continue through high school, with impressive results. "We have found that if we can grab them around the sixth-grade level, we can keep them from being inducted into gangs. Our instructors go though a stringent training program. And kids can't be a part of our program if they are in a gang or are involved in drugs. If you get into trouble, you're out of the program."
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