Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Muscles from Brussels
Jean-Claude Van Damme, or JCVD, was a Belgian child prodigy, moving from a career as a bodybuilder to a world acclaimed actor, this exceptional Belgian with his strong character is still making headlines.
From a young age, Jean-Claude Van Damme practised karate and gained his black belt. He then started lifting weights to improve his physique, which later earned him a Mr Belgium bodybuilding title.
In 1982, he set off for the United States of America with just three thousand dollars in his pocket, hoping to conquer the new continent. He picked up odd jobs before making a name for himself. During this period, he met Chuck Norris and Lou Ferrigno and landed a few small cinema roles.
With No Retreat, No Surrender, he won his first major role playing the villain, Ivan the Russian. It was at this time that Jean-Claude Van Varenberg changed his name to "Van Damme". A few months later came the meeting that would launch his career when he approached the producer Menahem Golan as he came out of a restaurant and gave him a martial arts demonstration in the car park. Menahem Golan cast him in Bloodsport which was an international success and gave birth to a saga.
The 1990s were a great cinematographic success in the United States and he appeared in Cyborg by Albert Pyun and Kickboxer by Mark DiSalle. Then came Lionheart, directed by Sheldon Lettich, a director that he worked with on another successful film: Double Impact (1991). In 2001, he launched his clothing line Damage7.
In 2010, Jean-Claude Van Damme was presented with the medal of Knight of the Order of the Crown by Fadila Laanan, the Belgian Minister of Culture of the French Community. On 31 October 2012, Jean-Claude Van Damme unveiled his life-size bronze statue in Anderlecht.
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