When Jean-Claude Van Damme became an international film star, there was some debate as to his kick-boxing accomplishments. Former multiple World Kickboxing Champion Don "The Dragon" Wilson even offered Jean-Claude a "$100,000" bounty match to get into the ring and fight him. Van Damme brushed off the "challenge" as a publicity stunt. But, the truth of the matter was that Jean-Claude Van Damme was a successful semi-contact and full-contact fighter who competed in Europe and briefly in the United States from 1976-1982.
At the age of 12, Van Damme began his martial arts training at Centre National De Karate (National Center of Karate) under the guidance of Master Claude Goetz in Ixelles, Belgium. Van Damme trained for 4 years and earned a spot on the Belgium Karate Team.
In 1976 at the age of sixteen, Jean-Claude started his Martial Arts fight career. Over the next 6-years, he competed in both full-contact and semi-contact matches.
He debuted under his birth name of Jean Claude Van Varenberg. In his first match, Jean-Claude was staggered by a round-house kick thrown by fellow countryman, Toon Van Oostrum in Brussels, Belgium. Van Damme was badly stunned, but came back to knockout Van Oostrum moments later.
In 1977, at the WAKO Open International in Antwerp, Belgium, Jean-Claude lost a decision to fellow team mate Patrick Teugels in a semi-contact match.
At the 1978 Challenge De Espoirs Karate Tournament (1st Trials),Jean-Claude placed 2nd in the semi-contact division. He defeated twenty-five opponents during the week long tournament, but lost in the finals to Angelo Spataro from the Naha Club.
Later in 1978,Jean-Claude lost a 3-round match for the Belgium Lightweight Championship (semi-contact) to his fellow team-mate to Patrick Teugels.
In 1979, Jean-Claude traveled to the United States of America, to Tampa, Florida. In his first and only match against a United States opponent, Van Damme faced 'Sherman 'Big Train'Bergman', a kick-boxer from the Miami Beach, Florida. For the first and only time in his career, Jean-Claude was knocked to the canvas after absorbing a powerful left hook from Bergman. However, Jean-Claude climbed off the canvas and with a perfectly timed ax-kick, knocked Bergman out in 56 seconds of the first round.
Jean-Claude was a member of the Belgium team which competed on December 26, 1979 at the La Coupe Fancois Persoons Karate Tournament which was sanctioned by the Federation bruxelloise de Karate. Van Damme's final match victory enabled his team to win the European Team Karate Championship.
In Full-Contact karate, Jean-Claude knocked out England's Micheal Heming in 46 seconds of the first round.
In 1980, Jean-Claude Van Damme knocked out France's Georges Verlugels in 2 rounds of a match fought under kick-boxing rules.
Jean-Claude wanted to defeat his rival Patrick Teugels. At the Forest Nationals in Brussels, on March 8, 1980, Jean-Claude knocked Teugels down and Teugels suffered a nose injury and was unable to continue. Jean-Claude was awarded a first round victory.
Jean-Claude retired from martial arts in 1982, following a knockout over Nedjad Gharbi in Brussels,Belgium.
Jean-Claude posted a 18-1 (18 knockouts) Kickboxing record, and a Semi-Contact record of 41-4.
After Jean-Claude's film career took off, controversy arose because none of his fights were found. Some experts blasted Van Damme as a fake, saying he only had one amateur fight which he lost. But research and the Internet have finally cleared things up. Jean-Claude Van Damme fought his entire fight career under his birth name of Van Varenberg; thus the mix-up.
Born on Oct 18 1960, Jean-Claude Van Damme is the son of Eugene Van Varenberg and Eliana Van Varenberg. "The Muscles from Brussels" originally known as Jean-Claude Van Varenberg, started martial arts at the age of 11. His father Eugene Van Varenberg introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak. Jean-Claude started with Shotokan Karate and later studied Kickboxing, Taekwon-Do, and Muay Thai. He won the European professional karate association's middleweight championship as a teenager, and also beat the 2nd best karate fighter in the world. His goal was to be number one but got sidetracked when he left his hometown of Brussels.
He came to Hong Kong at the age of 19 for the first time and felt insured to do action movies in Hong Kong. So in 1981 Van Damme left Hong Kong and moved to Los Angeles, where he was trying for 5 years. He took English classes while working as carpet layer, pizza delivery man, limo driver, and thanks to Chuck Norris he got a job as a bouncer at a club. Norris gave Van Damme a small role in the movie Missing in Action (1984), but it wasn't good enough to get anybody's attention. Then in 1984 he got a role as a villain named Ivan in the low-budget movie No Retreat, No Surrender (1986).
Then one day, while walking on the streets, Jean-Claude spotted a producer for Cannon Pictures, and showed some of his martial arts abilities which led to a role in Bloodsport (1988). But the movie, filmed in Hong Kong, was so bad when it was completed, it was shelved for almost two years. It might have never been released if Van Damme did not help them to recut the film and begged producers to release it. They finally released the film, first in Malaysia and France and then into the U.S. Shot on a meager 1.5 million dollar budget, it became a U.S box-office hit in the spring of 1988. It made about 30 million worldwide and audiences supported this film for its new sensational action star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
His martial arts assets, highlighted by his ability to deliver a kick to an opponent's head during a leaping 360-degree turn, and his good looks led to starring roles in higher budgeted movies like Cyborg (1989), Lionheart (1990), Double Impact (1991) and Universal Soldier (1992). In 1994, he scored with his big breakthrough $100 million worldwide hit Timecop (1994). But in the meantime, his personal life was coming apart. A divorce, followed by a new marriage, followed by another divorce.
It began to show up in his career when his projects began to tank at the box office - The Quest (1996), which he directed; Maximum Risk (1996) and Double Team (1997). The three films made less than $50 million combined.
In 1999 he remarried his ex-wife Gladys Portugues and restarted his lost career to attain new goals. With help from his family he faced his problems and made movies like Replicant (2001), Derailed (2002), and In Hell (2003) which did averagely in box office terms, but he tried to give his fans the best, his acting in those movies got better, more emotional and each movie was basically in different action tones.
|Gladys Portugues||(25 June 1999 - present)|
|Darcy LaPier||(3 February 1994 - November 1997) (divorced) 1 child|
|Gladys Portugues||(3 January 1987 - 1992) (divorced) 2 children|
|Cynthia Derderian||(24 August 1985 - 1986) (divorced)|
|Maria Rodriguez||(25 August 1980 - 1984) (divorced)|
Thrilling one and all with his 360-degree ultimate leaping & super flying karate kicks.
Frequently performs splits in his movies
His fight scenes are so intense that he won't film them in the U.S. for fear of being sued.
In 1989, he was sued for willfully gouging the eye of an extra in a sword fight while filming Cyborg (1989).
Won a court case filed against him by martial arts legend Frank Dux, who claimed he collaborated with Van Damme on his 1996 directorial debut The Quest (1996), only for Van Damme to deny him any share of the profits. His evidence was lost in an earthquake. Coincidentally, Van Damme played Dux in his debut Bloodsport (1988).
On July 10, 2000, Van Damme was sentenced to an anti-drunk driving class, a $1,200 fine, 3 years probation and a 90 day revocation of his license after pleading no contest for a September 23, 1999 DUI arrest in Beverly Hills.
Once said he learned to speak English by watching the cartoon "The Flintstones" (1960).
Studied classical ballet for five years
In his late teens he opened a gym called California Fitness Center.
Was student of Dominique Valera.
Likes classical music and his favorite composer is Beethoven.
Although Jean-Claude Van Damme failed to place in either the 1978 or 1979 WAKO World Championships, he was a member of the 1979 Belgium Team when it won the European Team Championships and a European middleweight Karate champion in his late teens. He won at the Hope Cup, the Cup of Antwerp, The Gala International, and The Forest Nationals.
Can lift 166 kg on a bench.
Formerly, had his own production companies - Long Road Productions / 777 Films Corp.
Related to Screenwriter Adam Burnett through marriage.
One-time sparring partner of Chuck Norris during the early 80s. Norris eventually cast him in "Missing In Action".
He was the inspiration for the character Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat was initially envisioned as a gaming vehicle for Van Damme, but he and Midway could not come to terms on the costs for using his likeness. One of Johnny Cage's special moves is doing a split while punching his opponent in the groin, as seen when Van Damme's character, Frank Dux, punches his large sumo opponent in Bloodsport (1988).
Van Damme was the original choice to play the title character in Predator (1987) and was part of the production until he was let go. According to Jesse Ventura's book, Van Damme played the Predator (1987) alien until he was replaced replaced by Kevin Peter Hall. During the movie's production, Van Damme reportedly was not happy that his face would not be shown on camera and that he would only receive an uncredited special effects role. He was also not comfortable in the original alien suit and passed out due to heat exhaustion. When Stan Winston's new Predator design came in, Kevin Peter Hall replaced Van Damme in the title role. Supposedly, Van Damme has no regrets on backing out of the Predator project.
Often states 'Charlie Chaplin (I)' as the first great action star.
Adopted Van Damme as his stage name from one of his friend's father name. He considered it punchy, short and clear than his birth name of Van Varenberg.
Brother of Veronique Van Varenberg.
Van Damme has an impressive kickboxing record of 18-1-0, with 18 wins by knockout. For most of these fights, he fought under his birth name of Jean-Claude Van Varenberg. Van Damme's only defeat in kickboxing was to France's Etienne Aubry on March 7, 1977 in Marseilles, France. Van Damme lost by disqualification when he accidentally kicked Aubry when he was on the canvas.
Lives in Hong Kong and Knokke-Heist, Belgium.
When Van Damme first arrived in Hollywood in the 1980s, his jobs consisted of waiting tables, delivering pizza, driving a taxi, and acting as a bouncer at Woody's World, a club owned by Chuck Norris in Newport Beach.
"I am the Fred Astaire of karate".
In an action film you act in the action. If it's a dramatic film you act in the drama.
I've become 40, my audience is partly the same age.
God gave me a great body and it's my duty to take care of my physical temple.
What is a movie star? It is an illusion. It was everything I ever wanted to be, but it became a kind of shell, non? It was what made me famous and got me women. But it wasn't real.
I took his (Alex Van Damme) name, in fact from his father because his father sent me for the first time in Hong Kong to be a picture model. I'm not enough tall to be a catwalk model, plus too big for that, and we became very good friends and I took his name as an honor. Because my name, by the way, is too complicated, it's Van Veren Berg, so in America it sounds like "Van Varen Berg" (said with American accent). So Van Damme it's punchy, short, and clear. - [on adopting the name 'Van Damme']
Time Cop could have been a very profitable franchise, but those idiots chose instead to sell the rights to television. That could have also been the case with Bloodsport, but they settled instead on second-rate kick-boxers for the sequels. - [on his famous films sequels]
An action hero has to be always in shape mentally and physically. People, sometimes they believe Sly, Arnold, myself, we're athletes, you cannot make mistakes. But Hollywood forgives, I guess.
Ten, 15 years ago, Sly, Arnold, those guys, were well-built; of course, they had to act and find good scripts, but today action heroes don't have to be Mr. Muscles. What really helps a guy to become an action hero today is the directing of the movie. All those fast cuts.
[His response to being asked what he thinks of his nickname 'Muscles from Brussels]: "It's better than being called 'The Idiot from Brussels'."
I'm one of the most sensitive human beings on Earth -- and I know it.
My dreams came true in America. It's not possible in Belgium. I grew up sadly. Skinny kid. Big, thick glasses. Everything I've done is a miracle.
I love challenges. If you don't have any and can do whatever you want, then it's probably time to die.
I liked the movement, technique and philosophy and I was training to be the best. Karate's a very boring sport, but when you know the technique you can go further and further. You need at least six or seven years to understand the philosophy and concentration of karate to know to clean your spirit of everything and dedicate your mind and body to the sport. I also use it for concentration before acting scenes.
I love playing the villain, but a villain with class.
(2008) I see dogs on the street, and I adopt them. I took seven dogs from Thailand, and a few of them are paralyzed. One has three paws instead of four. One is limping, so we bought him a wheelchair. I spent my own money to fly them back by private jet. In commercial, they can have heart attacks because of stress - it's dark and icy cold. I love animals. I have nine dogs and a kitty. My biggest orgasm - not in a sexual way - is to walk with my dogs on the beach. In Belgium we have these wide sidewalks. You feel like you're on the Planet Moon, and I can make them feel like movie stars.
[on rejecting Sylvester Stallone's offer of a part in The Expendables (2010)] Stallone gave me a part in his next movie, but I ask him about the subject, about the story. He said, 'You're gonna make lots of money.' I don't want to hear that, I want to hear what was my character. He was unable to tell what it's going to be. [Stallone said:] 'You know, uh, well, the fighting will be good.' [So I said:] 'Syl, what is my character?' So I didn't do the movie.
[circa 1992] You have to have a dream, the passion to make it, to make it, to really, really make it.
Hard Target was a bad script, but we had some great action scenes, and John Woo made me look like a samurai with greasy hair.
I am very proud of that film. I am persuaded that here, in the United States, it would have been a great success in theaters. And if you ask me why I am so proud of Replicant, it is because we succeeded in making a big film with very reduced budgets.
I have lots of respect for Christopher Walken. Did you see him in the King of New York? Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman are terrific. I feel their movies have quality. Rocky and Rambo were filled with drama and passion. Arnold doesn't move me. I like movies like The Godfather and The Deer Hunter. These are films with real solid acting, real talent.
[on Kickboxer 2] I refused a sequel. I wasn't offered enough money. Instead, we did a new film, Double Impact, rather than just make Kickboxer 2.
[on who should play the villain in Expendables 3] I think Steven Seagal has such a good presence. And he should lose some weigh, which isn't that difficult. I think he has lots of charisma. Even though he speaks bad about me sometimes, I think it's all bullshit. He's a nice guy. I think he has his own type of temper, vision, character. But he would be great in Expendables as a bad guy.
|No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)||$250|
|Black Eagle (1988)||$70,000|
|Death Warrant (1990)||$75,000|
|Double Impact (1991)||$600,000|
|Universal Soldier (1992)||$1,500,000|
|Hard Target (1993)||$3,500,000|
|Street Fighter (1994)||$8,000,000|
|Sudden Death (1995)||$5,000,000|
|The Hard Corps (2006) (V)||$3,000,000 - $3,500,000|
(February 2007) Started filming The Shepherd: Border Patrol (2008) (V) in Bulgaria.
(July 2008) Started filming Soldiers (2010) (aka "Full Love") in Thailand.
(September 2005) At the Eurasia Film Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
|You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.|
|With our Resume service you can add photos and build a complete resume to help you achieve the best possible presentation on the IMDb.|
Click here to add your resume and/or your photos to IMDb.