In a couple of weeks the country will play host to 3 legends in the martial arts action entertainment industry, Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock and Michael Jai White. In preparation to welcoming these guests, we take a brief look into their careers as actors and martial artists.
Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson
Probably the most successful martial artist and actor among the three is Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson having being tagged the ‘most successful kick-boxer of his era’.
Wilson was born on the 10th of March 1954 in Illinois but he grew up in Florida where is father worked as an engineer for NASA. His mother was Japanese.
Don started learning Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu after his older brother Jim asked him to spar. Don was so impressed with the fact that he could not get near his brother who was actually smaller than him. Then in 1975 he began studying Goju-Ryu Karate whilst at the Coast Guard Academy. However, he found his niche in kickboxing. Don has won an impressive 11 World titles spanning different weight categories in almost 3 decades.
He started his film career with Roger Corman’s Bloodfist series and has starred in a number of other martial arts and action films including a role in Batman Forever. He is married to well known makeup artists Kathleen Karridene and they have three children.
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Martial Arts films’, Cynthia Rothrock is no poser – she has 6 black belts in various Oriental martial arts including Tang Soo Do (Korean), Taekwondo (Korean), Wushu, Eagle Claw style (Chinese), Northern Shaolin (Chinese) and Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu (Chinese) and was five time World Karate Champion in forms and weapons between 1981 – 1985.
In 1985 she made her first movie with Golden Harvest which she starred with Michelle Yeoh. This proved to be a big hit which propelled her to stardom in Asian cinema. She is one of the few Caucasians to break that barrier and probably the only female. Her last film was called Sci-Fighter (aka Xtreme Fighter) which she starred with Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson. She also had a few roles in the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
Michael Jai White
Like his co-stars, Michael Jai White is an accomplished martial artist having attained seven black belts in different disciplines including Shotokan Karate, Taekwondo, Kobudo, Goju-Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushin Karate, most of which are showcased his the film Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown.
White’s first acting role was in the 1989 comedy horror The Toxic Avenger II. However, his first major starring role was playing bad boy boxing legend ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO film Tyson. A couple of years later he would become the first African American to portray and major comic book character in Spawn.
White is married to Courtney Chatman and they have a daughter, Michelle Morgan, but he also has two sons from a previous relationship.
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