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Belgian kickboxer became Hollywood star

From a promising career as a professional kickboxer in Brussels to one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood in the 1990s.

Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme has tried a little of everything, and on Sunday 18 October, the muscle bundle with the nickname “The Muscles from Brussels” turns 60 years old.

It was his martial arts skills and muscles that made him a hit in Hollywood.

After a few small roles, he really made a name for himself in 1988 in the action movie “Bloodsport”. Here he played an American soldier who – with a thick European accent – participates in an illegal martial arts tournament in Hong Kong.

The film became a huge audience success, and suddenly Jean-Claude Van Damme was a coveted name for action movies in line with Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal, who also both had backgrounds as martial artists.

– I wanted to find a new action star who was also the ladies’ friend. Jean-Claude appeals to both women and men.

“He’s an American hero who fights for justice and beats the villains,” the film’s producer said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1989.

However, neither Chuck Norris nor Steven Seagal boasts a professional martial arts career.

Jean-Claude Van Damme can do that, who back in the late 1970s and early 1980s had 19 professional kickboxing matches, where he won the 18.

He abruptly stopped his career in 1982 and went to Los Angeles to chase the dream of becoming a Hollywood star.

After his breakthrough, Jean-Claude Van Damme made one action film after another throughout the 1990s, where he typically showed off his martial arts skills and liked to have a scene where he went into a split.

He did the same for Volvo in a famous and award-winning advertisement from 2013, where he splits between two driving trucks.

Back in Brussels today stands a statue of Jean-Claude Van Damme in battle position. It was performed in 2012 in honor of the local actor who became a success in Hollywood.

Privately, he is married for the second time to Gladys Portugues, and they have two children, while he has another child with a former wife.

He has spoken openly about his diagnosis as bipolar and has also struggled with a cocaine addiction while at the peak of his acting career.

It was his martial arts skills and muscles that made him a hit in Hollywood.

After a few small roles, he really made a name for himself in 1988 in the action movie “Bloodsport”. Here he played an American soldier who – with a thick European accent – participates in an illegal martial arts tournament in Hong Kong.

The film became a huge audience success, and suddenly Jean-Claude Van Damme was a coveted name for action movies in line with Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal, who also both had backgrounds as martial artists.

– I wanted to find a new action star who was also the ladies’ friend. Jean-Claude appeals to both women and men.

“He’s an American hero who fights for justice and beats the villains,” the film’s producer said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1989.

However, neither Chuck Norris nor Steven Seagal boasts a professional martial arts career.

Jean-Claude Van Damme can do that, who back in the late 1970s and early 1980s had 19 professional kickboxing matches, where he won the 18.

He stopped his career abruptly in 1982 and went to Los Angeles to chase the dream of becoming a Hollywood star.

After his breakthrough, Jean-Claude Van Damme made one action film after another throughout the 1990s, where he typically showed off his martial arts skills and liked to have a scene where he went into a split.

He did the same for Volvo in a famous and award-winning advertisement from 2013, where he splits between two driving trucks.

Back in Brussels today stands a statue of Jean-Claude Van Damme in battle position. It was performed in 2012 in honor of the local actor who became a success in Hollywood.

Privately, he is married for the second time to Gladys Portugues, and they have two children, while he has another child with a former wife.

He has spoken openly about his diagnosis as bipolar and has also struggled with a cocaine addiction while at the peak of his acting career.

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