Interview of DON « THE DRAGON » WILSON

by Serge TREFEU (2013)

(Thank to DON CLOVIS)



Don Wilson, thank you for grant me this interview, in 58 years you are always on form, you are going to make a last fight this year of 2013, you can speak to us about this fight, in what discipline you are going to make him?

This will be a kickboxing bout fought under the current K-1 Rules except for the fact it will be 10 rounds two minute and not the standard 5 rounds of three minute. We will fight in the Light Heavyweight division or the 175 pound weight limit !

In this show of boxing, in Turkey, where you are going to fight, your manager will be Don Clovis?

Don Clovis will be in my corner and we are working together to coproduce an action film with Gorilla Pictures, a US based Production company, and a local Turkish Production Company. We have made our initial meeting and the project will move forward until a script-budget is ready for pre-production to begin. We will film in LA and Istanbul !




Since how long you know Don Clovis?

We met in the 90's and became instant friends. When I see Don, "it always brings a smile to my face" and we enjoy discussing our two similar passions, Films and the Martial Arts...




You continuous to train regularly?

I have retired 3 times from Kickboxing but continued my training because I love it and it was necessary to perform at my best in martial arts action films

After all his years crossed on boxing rings, all your great victories against the best champions of the planet, your numerous titles gained, you have to prove nothing more, why this last fight in 58 years?

You have answered your own question my friend. Despite all I've accomplished as a martial artist, I am now attempting to see what I can do at "58". Actually, I'll be 59 the night of the fight because my Birthday is in September and the fight is scheduled for October 26th. I am doing MANY things differently than when I was young for example eating better, resting more,sparring less, stretching more, etc...

Fighting at this age is MUCH different than when I began in 1974. I was voted as "Fighter of the Year" in 1984 by Black Belt Magazine and that was probably my peak year as an athlete. However, I still have the confidence that I will win "ONE MORE FIGHT"!



You are one of the pioneers of the Kickboxing in the world, let us return at the very beginning of your career, to what age you discovered the boxing?

I began my martial arts training in 1972 at 17 while attending the US Coast Guard Academy. I studied Goju (traditional Okinawa style of karate) under Chuck Merriman. My first "Full Contact Karate" or Kickboxing fight was in 1974

You grew in which place of the United States, in your district there were a many gyms of boxing?

There were very few "boxing" or martial arts gyms in my area Cocoa Beach, Florida back when I was growing up. I had to drive for over 2 hours sometimes to train in a boxing gym in Tampa, Florida. There was a boxing in Orlando and I also trained there while at the same time working out with martial artists in my area

When you were teenager you were rather a brawler?

No, I played sports and if I was getting into fights-trouble would not have been allowed to compete. As a Senior at Saint Andrews Prep. School in Boca Raton, Florida, I was the MVP of both my High School Football and Basketball teams...

In the 70s you were teenager, it was at time of the legend Bruce Lee, what is what Bruce Lee inspired you when you have to begin the Martial arts?

Like everyone in the early 70's, I was a BIG Bruce Lee fan. I read about his philosophy and felt he was correct in "cross-training" and utilizing what works for the individual and not adhere to a "standard set of rules and techniques". Throughout my career I have always gone to where the knowledge was and added what worked for me...



Before the boxing you began the Martial arts with the Kung fu, your professor was nicknamed "White Dragon", it is for that you had then during all your career your nickname of fighter "Don Dragon"?

My style of Kung Fu was the « White Dragon style » taught by our Grandmaster Daniel K Pai !



At the beginning of the 70s, the Kickboxing was not very known in the world, in what gym of Kickboxing you began the boxing? 

Since "Full Contact Karate-Kickboxing" was new in the US there were no gyms or schools in my area and I just trained with boxers and my friends in the martial arts. We created our own tools and ways of preparing for training under the different rules being allowed around the world at the time. I had my "trainer Brooks Mason" pad up his whole body and kicked and punched him to prepare for a fight

You remember your first fight in Full-contact?

I remember them like it was yesterday. I had a broken hand in my first fight with Bill Knoblock and rebroke it in the 3 round fight. I was paid $100 US dollars, lost the fight, went to the hospital to set my hand and lost money as well... But, I fell in love with the sport...

You have make most of your fights in the rules of the Full-contact with fight without low kick, you preferred to fight without low kick or with low kick?

I am much more of a kicker than puncher so my style is much better for me when I'm allowed to use the "low kick". I was the WKA Champion since 1980 and defended my title several times, fought Thais, etc. so the Low Kick is very comfortable for me. I only fought my first 6 years as a kickboxer under the PKA rules which restrict kicking below the waist.

My career spanned 4 decades from 1974 to 2002, and now, 2013...



It is true that you were the first one Kick Boxer, in the 80s, to go to challenge in Asia the formidable Thai fighters who control in the perfection the techniques of low kick, in Hong-Kong you met fighters such as Panya Sornnoi, Pongdejnoi Prasobchai and Fanta Attapong, you remember your confrontations in front of these champions of Thai boxing?

No I am not the "first" to challenge "Asia" as there were other fighters such as Benny Urquidez, Howard Jackson, Ramon Dekker, Rob Kaman, etc. I considered myself a martial artist first and never thought poorly of Thai fighters, Japanese fighters, etc. I just used this sport to sharpen my striking skills and my defense against strikes. I was a collegiate wrestler and always knew I could control an untrained opponent on the ground. To complete my training I have worked with grapplers to defend against submissions. I will learn to submit others later in my training...

You are also, the first American, and one of the first foreigners to fight in the stadium of Lumpinee in Bangkok, in a main fight, it was in 1983 against the great champion Samart Prasanmit who was a Lumpinee champion at that time, what memory you keep of your fight in Bangkok?

I was told to come in "at any weight" but after I arrived and on the day of the fight, I was told "You must make your fighting weight of 175lbs". I weighed 180lbs but the scale they gave me in the Sauna was bad and I ended up weighing 172lbs for the fight. I lost 8 pounds of water and that was enough to cause me to lose a decision to Samart. I did fight Fanta in 1984 and defeated him in Hong Kong. I was never offered another fight by any Thai promoter to fight one of their fighters. I fought only 3 fights under Thai rules but my opponents had fought over 100. I believe they knew that with experience I would dominate their sport...




I think that you know the famous movie " Kick Boxer " in which acts Jean-Claude Van Damme, movie which went out in 1989, in this movie an American champion of Kickboxing is going to challenge for the first time the Thai champions at their home in Bangkok, you believe that the directors of the movie Mark DiSalle and David Worth were inspired by your fight in Lumpinee against Samart Prasanmit?

I do not know if they were "inspired" but some of the EXACT same things that happened to me with my experiences in Thailand and Hong Kong ended up in the film...

It's true that in the 90s you challenged Jean-Claude Van Damme for the faced on a boxing ring?

Champions never "challenge" anyone. Roger Corman offered me $100,000 to fight JCVD and I accepted. Of course, since he was never a professional kickboxer, he declined...

In Full-contact you met so many great champions, among all those that you faced what the one who oppose you most difficulty?

James Waring, Maurice Smith, Branco Cikatic, Dennis Alexio, Jean Yves Theriault, Ferdinand Mack, Attapong, Samart, Che Le, so many great fighters and under different rules....they were ALL tough fighters !





You faced in Kickboxing of the very strong champions with the strikings in legs as Maurice Smith, Dennis Alexio and Branko Cikatic, you remember your matches in front of his great champions?

As I have said in the past, I remember the tough fights but the easy ones are forgotten. Luckily, I had MANY tough opponents so I have lots to remember...



What is your fighter's best memory?

Hitting Branco when I had 2 broken hands felt very painful but was a happy moment for me anyway! 

We are now very good friends and I will always consider myself as VERY LUCKY in that fight because it does not matter if you are ahead on points....if he hits you, it's OVER !

Your hardest fight in your career?

I get asked this a lot and my answer is ALWAYS the same...James Waring 11 rounds in Tokyo, Japan. Styles make the fight and his was VERY difficult for me that night. Again, the Dragon got lucky, scored 2 Knockdowns in the latter rounds to win a decision...



Your Boxing was terrible, you have moreover make 6 professional fights (4victories, 2 defeats), what is what you would have like making also a long career in Boxing?

My record as a Boxer is actually 6-3 with all the loses coming from 1st round TKO's. It also happened to me in Kickboxing, a first round TKO against Glenn McMorris the kickboxer with the worst record I ever faced....9-6 ( He retired as 10-9 but TKO'd me in the first round of our fight). I never tried to become a pro boxer. I competed only to force me to fight with just my hands as a training tool. I had a trainer that tried to change my style to a "Tyson"-like fighter who KO'd guys in the first round and it caused me to get hit early and stopped 3 times. They were not great opponents but my trainer-manager in the boxing matches did not understand how confused he made me by forcing me to "act" differently than I had done in my kickboxing matches. I ALWAYS take my time and "feel out" my opponents and then use my experience to win against them. You can not do that if you are attempting to KO someone in round 1...




After your boxer's career you became an actor in action movies, today you became a star of the cinema of the movies of Martial arts, the movie which to go into your career in the cinema it is famous "Bloodfist", how it passed your debuts in the cinema?

Chuck Norris was the first person in the entertainment business who suggested I try to become a martial arts action star. He attended and announced some of my fights and at his suggestion, I move to LA in 1985. I starred in "Bloodfist" in 1988 and since that time have starred in 30 films. I auditioned for the role in "Bloodfist" and in all the other films, I was offered the parts and did not have to "audition". That does not mean my career is easier because I do not audition for the Star of the film because it is now about making the correct film and not "passing" on a good movie. The late great actor Chris Penn was my best friend and he once told me to "be careful when they offer you big money to do a film...the more money the worse the film."



The movie " Bloodfist " was shot in the Philippines, what memory you keep of your shooting in this country for 10 000 miles kilometers from the United States?

I have only GREAT memories of shooting in Manila. I enjoyed both film "Bloodfist 1-2" and am actually considering working there again in the near future with the son of the local producers of those films...










In the series of movies " Bloodfist " (8 movies in all), there are often champions of Kickboxing who acts inside, such as Rob Kaman,Maurice Smith, James Warring, Stan Longinidis, Pete Cunningham, it was important to have in the movies also real champions as you?

Yes, of course, I respect and admire Rob, Maurice, and James so when they accepted and agreed to work with me on "Bloodfist 2" I was very happy. But, if you look through ALL my films you will see MANY great martial artists such as Pete Cunningham, Stan Longinidis, Gene Labell, etc...




You also acts in science fiction films as "Soft Target", "Cyber Tracker" and "The Last Sentinel", what differenc there is for you between acts in Martial art movies and science fiction films?

I enjoy watching Sci-Fi films and since the audiences seem to like a combination of martial arts and action in that genre such as "The Matrix". I am always looking for crossover films that play to both fans...



What is your next movie to which you go shot?

I have read some very good scripts and have some co-productions that may be finalized soon so I am not in control regarding start dates. I will announce the next project when the financing is in place. It is very tempting to talk about shooting a film while it is in "development" but since I do not fund them, it is out of my hands






If one day a movie was made on your incredible life, which actor you would see to acts your role?

Dan Mayid. He played my son in "Sci-Fighter" aka "X-Treme Fighter" and can act as well as perform the martial arts necessary

You want to add anything?

Yes, my brother and I have a new business which is a clothing company for the "fans of the martial arts " called DRAGON TRADITIONZ. You can check out the designs at !



Thank you very much for this interview and good luck for your fight

Thank you VERY much for allowing me to speak to my French friends in the martial arts and I hope to meet you in person one day soon. I hope having some great seminars in France, Because Is one of the only Country in Europe, where I never did...

your friend, Don "The Dragon" Wilson




Don Wilson is a real monument of the Kickboxing, an alive legend of the Kickboxing which marked the story of the Kickboxing!
"The Dragon" brought down the biggest boxers of his time, as well in Full-contact karate as in Kickboxing and even in the rules of the Thai boxing. He conquered 11 championships of the World in Full-contact karate and Kickboxing, in three different categories, a real record!

His victories on champions such as James Warring, Maurice Smith, Branco Cikatic, Dennis Alexio, Attapong Buaban, Jaidee Pitsarnuracharn, Ferdinand Mack, Demetrius Edwards, and his confrontations against Jean-Yves Thériault, Samart Prasanmit and Marek Piotrowski became from now on cult fights in the story of the Kickboxing!
After his prestigious boxer's career, Don Wilson became a star of the movies of martial arts in the United States. Today, for the aficionados of the movies of "fighting", Don " The Dragon " is known as well as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal!



Born: 10 September 1954

Weight :75 Kg- 89 Kg

Height : 1m84

Number of fight : 82. 72 wins (48 KO). 5 Losses. 2 Draws 3 No Contests

Title : IKF World Champion Full-Contact in 195 lbs (88.6 kg), World Champion Full-Contact in 171.7 lbs (78 kg), ISKA World Champion Full-Contact in 182 lbs (82.7 kg), World Champion Kick Boxing in 183 lbs (83.1 kg), WKA World Champion Kick Boxing in 184 lbs (83.6 kg), World Champion Kick Boxing in 192 lbs (87 kg), WKA World Champion Kick Boxing in 190 lbs (86.3 kg), World Champion Kick Boxing in 175 lbs (79.5 kg), WKA World Champion Kick Boxing in 175 lbs (79.5 kg), ISKA North American Champion Full-Contact in 194 lbs (88.2 kg), PKA US Champion Full-Contact in 170 lbs (77.2 kg), PKA Florida State Champion Full-Contact in 170 lbs (77.2 kg)











2011 World Kickboxing League Hall of Fame

2002 Guinness World Record « Most Kickboxing World Titles »

2001 Martial Arts Hall of Fame

1977-1989 STAR Career Champion « Top-Rated Kickboxer of All Time »

1988 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fighter of the Year » (American Karate & Official Karate magazines)

1988 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fight of the Year » Don Wilson v Branimir Cikatic (Official Karate magazine)

1986 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Top Kickboxers of the Year » (Official Karate magazine)

1985 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fighter of the Year » (Official Karate magazine)

1985 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fight of the Year » Don Wilson v Jean-Yves Theriault (Official Karate magazine)

1984 “Mr. Kickboxing” of the WKA (NBC-TV’s Sports World)

1984 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fighter of the Year » (Official Karate magazine)

1984 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Fight of the Year » Don Wilson v Maurice Smith (Official Karate magazine)

1984 Black Belt Hall of Fame « Full-Contact Fighter of the Year » (Black Belt magazine)

1983 Kickboxing Hall of Fame « Top Kickboxers of the Year » (Official Karate magazine)

1980 First Kung-Fu Stylist to Win a Kickboxing World Title

1975 Fourth Place Florida State Collegiate Wrestler (177 lbs. Catch-as-Catch-Can Rules)


Bloodfist (1989)
Bloodfist II (1990)
Circle of fire (1991)
Future Kick (1991)
Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1992)
Blackbelt (1992)
Justice of blood (1992)
The Fist Revenge "Bloodfist IV: Die Trying" (1992)
Circle of fire II (1993)
Human Target "Bloodfist V: Human Target" (1994)
Red sun (1994)
Cyber Tracker (1994)
Terminal Rush (1995)
Bloodfist VI "Bloodfist VI: Ground Zero" (1995)
Circle of fire III (1995)
Grid Runners (1995)
Bloodfist VII: Manhunt (1995)
Cyber-Tracker 2 (1995)

Batman Forever (1995)
Trained To Kill "Bloodfist VIII: Trained to Kill" (1996)
Night Hunter (1996)
Inferno (1997)
"Whatever It Takes" (1998)
"The Prophet" (1999)
Moving Tarcet "Moving Target" (2000)
"Redemption" (2002)
Sci-Fighter (2004)
Soft Target (2006)
The Last Sentinel (2007)





Lumpinee Stadium