Aaron Banks, who helped launch Chuck Norris to stardom, dies at 85
Banks died in his sleep on May 2, according to Maurice Elmalem, his friend and former martial arts student. He organized martial arts tournaments in the city and ran a studio in midtown for decades.
BY GINGER ADAMS OTIS / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2013, 7:33 PM
Aaron Banks, the Bronx-born martial arts master who helped make Chuck Norris a household name, died last week at age 85.
Banks grew up in the Depression-era Bronx and tried his hand at acting, singing and Broadway plays before finding his calling as a martial arts guru. He dedicated himself to studying the ancient form of self-defense and soon became a master teacher, Elmalem said.
He earned a black belt in 1962, and a year later organized a karate demonstration at Manhattan’s 41st Street Theater. Response was so great that Banks went on to host an East Coast vs. West Coast Competition in 1967, featuring a laconic young fighter named Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris won the Aaron Banks tournament two years in a row before he became known for action star dominance.
He never made good on his dream to become a famous actor but did land a few bit parts in films now and again. Banks was also tapped to choreograph many fight scenes for martial arts flicks in the 1970s and ‘80s.