No? Just me? Earlier this week action-movie legend Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg announced his return to professional kickboxing. He's scheduled to fight Thai kickboxer and former Olympian Somluck Kamsing in April of 2011 in Las Vegas, although he Nevada Boxing Commission has yet to license the fight.
JCVD's return to the ring is is noteworthy for quite a few reasons, yet no one's really talking about. It just shows you what happens when you take the ESPN and MMA buzz machine out of the equation. Van Damme hasn't fought in almost 29 years. His last professional fight was years before the ballyhooed popularity of organized MMA fighting, the advent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, albums on CDs (remember those, kids?), and my own birth. Secondly, as Brett Favre can attest after this past season, coming out of retirement after the age 40 isn't just crazy, it's pretty close to a goddamn death wish. Van Damme is 50. He'll be fighting a 37 year old opponent, so it seems slightly less suicidal, but it's tough to imagine the action star being in peak physical condition. Lastly, it's entirely reasonable to believe Van Damme's martial arts prowess is unknown to an entire generation of young MMA fans. After all, "Street Fighter," "Universal Soldier," "Last Action Hero," "Lionheart," and "Bloodsport" were pretty badass... in the early 90s. Is this stunt just a ploy to raise his celebrity relevance and stock price in Hollywood, particularly since he allegedly turned down an offer from Sly Stallone to be in "The Expendables"? Or does he seriously want to compete again? More importantly, does anyone even care? Watch the really bizarre press conference -- which kinda looks like it took place at a yacht marina in the in Monaco -- after the jump.
Here's the pullquote from the presser that really caught my attention, via Cagewriter:
"I did my rock n' roll type life, I fell down rock bottom," Van Damme said (1:42 mark -- NSFW). "And I've got that spot following me about Van Damme is drinking. Van Damme is doing cocaine. Van Damme is doing all that [expletive]. So I'm [branded] for life."
Then it was time to say sorry to the kids (1:55 mark).
"... the only way to forgive myself to all those children, with their posters 'Bloodsport' and 'Kickboxer' and their father telling them that 'you know he's a great guy and you should train like him' and all that. Then I [expletive] up my life and everything. I want to go back in that ring to prove to those children that they'll fight in my heart."
Does he realize those "children" who had his posters from "Street Fighter" on the wall are now 25 - 30 year old men? JCVD, wake up man. Just goes to show you how much blow and booze this guy was consuming in the 90s.