Don Wilson: “Martial arts masters and kickboxers of Turkey amazed me…”
Famous American Kickboxing Champion and actor Don Wilson gave an interview to Turkish Newspaper “Akşam”. Demanded actor of Hollywood who is known by his nickname “The Dragon” confessed that he used stuntman in his films. The actor who visited Turkey last year says, “I am amazed by the martial arts masters and kickboxers of the country and I respected them both as fighters and persons.”
Interview : Mezin DEDEYİ (AKŞAM)
Translation : Reşat Onur ER
We heard that your nickname “The Dragon” is related to your kung-fu master. Did he give you this nickname? Why they call you “The Dragon”?
I got this nickname in 1974 when I started kickboxing in Orlando, Florida. The announcer of the ring came to me and asked me what is my ring name. Big fighters had ring names such as Joe “Smoke”, Mancini “Bum Bum”, Thomas “The Assasinator”. On that moment I thought for 2 seconds and I said Don “The Dragon” because my kung-fu master trained me with “White Dragon” style. Since then, this name followed me and also became my scene name.
Actually you have a few more nicknames. “The Thunder” and “Hoshino”. What are stories of them?
I didn’t hear anyone calling “The Thunder” but “Hoshino” is maiden name of my mother. When I go to Japan they don’t call me “The Dragon” because it seems as a Chinese nickname and so Japanese people call me Hoshino because of this promotional reason.
You have been 11 times kickboxing World Champion. Do you still continue trainig?
Actuall I didn’t start my career to become champion more then anyone else, but since I started fighting for money and experience, things advanced. In return for fighting in championships and fighting in their countries, I started to make more money. Opportunities came to me. I really love practicing but I am very busy and I can’t train as much as I want.Everyone is asking me what is my motivation for training. This seems weird to me, because I like doning it and I don’t need any motivation.
How did you became an actor? Did kickboixng help you with your career as an actor?
In 1980, I meet with Chuck Norris during one of my fight. He was the first one to tell me that I should take part in films. We became close family friends because before he was an actor he was a real and good fighter. Unlike many martial arts actores, we both had reputation in fighting community. Kickboxing didn’t help me at all in show business because all the other actors were called “World Champion” under false pretenses, but since I was on cover pages of martial arts magazines I attended to selections of “Bloosfist” film by Roger Corman and I got the leading role. So it helped me to get selected but not as the people think. Until now, I have 30 action movie leading roles. I have been acting on tv and on movies many times. My fighting history from 1974 to 2002 granted me to have a loyal fan mass all over the world. So for me being a long term actor is ofcourse also related to my history in kickboxing. On 80’s and 90’s martial art movies we very popular and some of them became historical.
Who was your favorite actor at that time?
Chuck Norris is my favorite actor, because he is both my friend personaly and he has been conducting this genre since death of Bruce Lee. Both as actors and fighters, we have similar careers.
Do you use stuntman?
Ofcourse I use in dangerous scenes. For example in car crash scenes, scenes of climbing to high buildings… But I always fight myself in fighting scenes. I don’t need such a stunting. Sometimes things as happened in “The Scorpion King 4” can occur, last year during filming I got a knife cut on my leg and my stuntman had to act in some scenes instead of me. It was an accident but you always should have someone educated that can complete the scenes for such cases.
You always have rough and serious roles in your movies, but when we look to your photos from your daily life, we always see a smiling man. How is “The Dragon” during his daily life?
Yes, during my career as an actor, I always have been playing the role of strong and silent characters, but if you ask to someone who knows me in real life, he would tell you that I have nothing to do with this. My “Red Sun Rising” film is the film that reflect my character best. It was produced by my close friend Paul Maslak and the scenarist Rober East has written something more similar to my real character.
And “Bloody Fist”! You got role in 8 films of the series. How was taking part in 8 movies of the same series?
Althought I acted in 8 “Bloody Fist” movies, I had diferent roles in 6 of them. Only in first two movies of the series, I played role of Jake Raye. Roger Corman was saying that “Bloody Fist” mean “Don Wilson” and he just used this title.
You have three children. Is any of them taking martial arts education?
My sons Jonathan, Drayden qnd my daughter Aubrianna preacticed martial arts but it is not their passion. All of them have another thing that they think about more. Aubrianna likes dancing and acting. Drayden played baseball and now he is a runner. Johnatan is keen on body building but he is still practicing kickboxing to stay in form.
Do they want to become actors?
Ofcourse, they all acted in my films. Last week my daughter even wanted me to arrange a manager for her. I think that Johnatan and Aubrianna have natural talent for acting. So, if they want to advance in this career I will always support them.
Last year you visited our country (Turkey). How do you remember our country?
I have always liked İstanbul trips. I have good memories both about the people, the culture and the foods. Martial arts masters and kickboxers of your country amazed me and I respected them both as fighters and persons. Many years ago I had an exhibiton fight against Gökhan Saki and it was broadcasted on TV, it was amazing. What I have learned is the more a fighter is good, the less he has to prove and would get more respect from a former champion as me. As an athlete, my best time was the time I was selected as “Fighter of the Year” by “Black Belt Magazine” in 1984. Now a fighter that fought against me has nothin to prove. No fighter can stay on edge forever. I love Turkey and I hope I will record one of my films in your country.
Do you wish to come again?
I have a plan of coming back to İstanbul with Varol Porsemay and Ramiz Özbay from Hollywood Production. I hope in 2014 I will be back with my “Return of The Dragon” film. Thank you very much for your support that continues for many years.