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Jean Claude Van Damme
Born: October 18, 1960 [56 yo] in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium

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.

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).

Former European Professional Karate Association middleweight champion.

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).

In Jesse Ventura's book, he mentions Van Damme as having played Predator (1987) monster until he was fired and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.

Studied classical ballet for five years

Speaks French, English, Spanish and German.

In his late teens he opened a gym called California Fitness Center.

Was student of Dominique Valera.

Was a European Middle Weight Champion in Karate in his late teens.

Likes classical music and his favorite composer is Beethoven.

Jean-Claude Van Damme lost in the WAKO Open International in 1979, and for the Belgium Title in 1980. However, he was a member of the 1979 Belgium when it won the European Team Championships. He also won at the Forest Nationals in 1980.

Can lift 166 kg on a bench.

Has his own production companies, Long Road Productions / 777 Films Corp.

Was the original choice to play the title character in Predator (1987).

Related to Screenwriter Adam Burnett through marriage.

One-time sparring partner of Chuck Norris during the early 80s.

Children: Kristopher Van Varenberg (b. 1987) and Bianca Van Varenberg (b. 1990) with Gladys Portugues; son Nicholas (b. 1995) with Darcy LaPier.

He was the inspiration for the character Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat. One of Johnny Cage's special moves is doing the splits while punching his opponent in the groin, as seen when Van Damme's character, Frank Dux, punches his large sumo opponent in Bloodsport (1988).

As the original choice to play the role of the alien hunter itself in the movie Predator (1987), he hit a few personal snags. For starters, he was not happy with the fact that his face would not be shown on camera, and that he would be having an uncredited special effects role. He was also not fond of the original monster suit - he frequently passed out due to heat exhaustion. Because he complained so much and was very uncooperative, he was fired from the film. When Stan Winston's Predator design came in, Kevin Peter Hall was chosen to play the title role and filled it perfectly. Supposedly, Van Damme has no regrets on backing out of the Predator project.

Purchased a condominium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Knocked out Germany's Eric 'Basel' Strauss in 18 seconds in 1978 at Antwerp, Belgium, in a scheduled 3-round full-contact match.

Knocked-out Emile Leibman in the first round of a scheduled three-round full-contact match at Iseghem, Belgium in 1979.

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.

Films often contain injuries to the groin area. Examples: Double Impact (1991) Hard Target (1993) and Timecop (1994).

Fought on the March 8, 1980 under-card of the main event between France's Dominique Valera and U.S.A.'s Dan Macaruso. The fight took place in 1980 in Brussels, Belgium, and Jean-Claude stopped Patrick Teugels by first round knockout, fracturing Teugels nose.

At Mulhouse, Belgium in 1978, he knocked out Andre (Robar) Robaeys in 1 round of a scheduled 3-round full-contact match.

At Opprebais, Belgium in 1978, he stopped Jacques Piniarski in 1 round of a scheduled 3-round full-contact match.

In 1980, in Brussels, fighting under his birth name, Jean Claude Van Varenberg, he knocked out a fighter known as Verlugels in 2 rounds.

Fighting as Jean Claude Van Varenberg, he knocked out Rolf Risberg in 1 round of a scheduled 3-round full-contact match in Ingelmunster, Belgium, in 1979.

Both of Van Dammes defeats were to Patrick Teugels, his former team mate on the Belgium team. However, prior to retiring, Van Damme defeated Teugels in under two minutes.

In 1979, fighting as Jean-Claude Van Varenberg, he climbed off the canvas to knock out Sherman 'Big Train' Bergman of Miami Beach, Florida with an Axe-kick in one round.

He was another consideration for a villain in Rush Hour 3 (2007).

He was considered for the role of Wolverine at one point in X-Men (2000).

Was briefly considered for the role of Michael Cheritto in Heat (1995).

The character of Johnny Cage from the Mortal Kombat games was initially modeled on Jean Claude Van Damme.

Fight Record: 18-2 (18 knockouts) 1977: Won: Knocked out Toon Van Oostrum in 1 round. 1977: Won: Knocked out Maurice Devos in 1 round. 1977: Lost:Decision to Patrick Teugels 3 rounds. 1978: Won: Knocked out Eric Bruno Strauss in 1 round. 1978: Won: Knocked out Michel Juvillier in 1 round. 1978: Lost:Decisioned to Patrick Teugels in 3 rounds. 1978: Won: Knocked out Orlando Lang in 1 round. 1978: Won: Knocked out Emile Leibman in 1 round. 1978: Won: Knocked out Cyrille in 1 round. 1979: Won: Knocked out Andre Robaeys in 1 round. 1979: Won: Knocked out Jacques Piniarski in 1 round. 1979: Won: Knocked out Rolf Risberg in 1 round. 1979: Won: Knocked out Sherman Bergman in 1 round. 1979: Won: Knocked out Gil Dias in 1 round. 1980: Won: Knocked out Mustapha-Ahmad Benamou in 1 round. 1980: Won: Knocked out Bekim-Moussa Muhammad in 1 round. 1980: Won: Knocked out Micheal J. Heming in 2 rounds. 1980: Won: Knocked out Georges Verlugels in 2 rounds. 1980: Won: Knocked out Andres Kovac in 2 rounds. 1980: Won: Knocked out Patrick Teugels in 1 round.

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