Ep. 54: World Kickboxing Champion Don “The Dragon” Wilson
Unquestionably, the greatest kickboxing champion of all time, Don “The Dragon” Wilson is the only kick-boxer to win 11 world titles in 3 weight divisions (light-heavyweight, super-light-heavyweight, and cruiserweight) and for 6 sanctioning organizations (WKA, STAR, KCIK ,ISKA, PKD, AND IKF). Along the way, he defeated 11 other world champions, 12 number-one contenders and 15 champions on 4 continents.
Don’s impressive career record consists of 71 wins, 47 by knockout, and 6 by kick-knockout, and he was also the first kung-fu practitioner to become a World Kickboxing champion. In 1996, Don was named the Greatest Competitor of All Time by Kickside magazine-Europe.
As Don’s phenomenal kickboxing career was winding down, he came to Hollywood at the suggestion of his friend and fellow martial artist, Chuck Norris. After hooking up with agent Ray Cavaleri (who is still his agent), Don got a national commercial, and a stint on the soap opera “General Hospital”. Shortly thereafter came a fateful audition with the legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who had discovered such talents as William Shatner, Jack Nicholson, and Robert DeNiro. Corman was so impressed with Don’s kickboxing career and his natural charm, that he immediately signed him to a non-exclusive seven movie contract, and Don starred in the huge hit, “Bloodfist”. Since Don was still fighting, Corman actually once insured Don’s face for $10 million with Lloyd’s of London.
Don has established himself as a hard working Hollywood action star, having starred in 29 films since his film career began in 1989. He has had as many as five films released within a fourteen month period. His most recent project is a movie entitled “Paying Mr. McGetty.”
Don Wilson – Show Notes
What got you involved in the martial arts industry?
Don has always been an athlete, being involved in basketball and football throughout high school. What motivated Don to play and perform in sports was the urge to fit in with his peers. After high school, Don started training in martial arts at the age of 18. In 1974, full contact karate was born and Don jumped at the opportunity to fight. His first fight was in Orlando; he lost, broke his hand and lost money, but he loved every minute of it.
“You would think I would get out of it after that but I loved it; I had fun!”
Don says his strength as a fighter was his defense. Most fighters that go to the gym just want to start hitting bags and hitting pads, throwing punches and kicks, and he says they don’t recognize that half of the fight is not getting hit.
Do you have any advice for athletes listening?
Don believes in working hard and take the lessons you’ve learned along the way and apply them.
“In a business, don’t just learn one part of that business. Try to learn everything you can from it.”
What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Don says managing his own money is one thing he took care of himself from the start, and he feels that having a big “entourage” isn’t necessary.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing now?
Don has been involved in the productions of his movies and what he finds challenging while acting for hire is letting go of the production end of things. He was used to making decisions on camera shots, directors, actors, post-production and more.
What is your greatest success?
Don says no matter how many times you earn something the first is always the most exciting and fulfilling. For him, that was winning his first world title. Don never gave up and followed his dream no matter how many people said he was never going to make it.
“If you don’t believe you can do something then you’re not going to be able to do it.”
What book has impacted you the most?
“The Law Of Success” by Napoleon Hill, “Relentless” by Tim Grover and “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene are the three books that have had the biggest impact on him.
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