Don "The Dragon" Wilson

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Don Wilson
Don Wilson.jpg
Born Donald Glen Wilson
(1954-09-10) September 10, 1954 (age 61)
Alton, Illinois, United States
Other names The Dragon, Hoshino
Nationality United States American
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 178 lb (81 kg; 12.7 st)
Division Middleweight
Light heavyweight
Style Gōjū-ryū Karate, Kickboxing, Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu
Fighting out of Alton, Illinois, United States
Team White Dragon Kickboxing
Rank 5th degree black belt in Kickboxing
Years active 1974-1991, 1999-2002, 2013-
Professional boxing record
Total 9
Wins 6
By knockout 4
Losses 3
By knockout 3
Kickboxing record
Total 82
Wins 72
By knockout 47
Losses 5
Draws 2
No contests 3
Other information
Notable relatives Jim Wilson (trainer), Kathleen Karridene (wife)

Don "The Dragon" Wilson (born September 10, 1954) is an American 11-time professional kickboxing world champion who scored 47 knockouts in four decades, a European Martial Arts Hall of Famer and an action film actor. He stated many times before that he's a kung fu stylist and saw kickboxing as an opportunity to put his skill to practice, as there was no such thing as full contact kung fu.


Early life[edit]

Wilson was born to an American father and Japanese mother in Alton, Illinois. His older brother, James, was born in Japan, where his parents met. His father's job as an engineer for the Kennedy Space Center brought the family to Florida when Wilson was four. He attended Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton, where he was an MVP in football and basketball.[1] Wilson also tried his hand at wrestling, in which he excelled enough to score a 4th place in the Florida State Collegiate Wrestling competition.

After high school, Wilson went to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut in the fall of 1972. Wilson has stated that his brother challenged him to friendly sparring, which he imagined he would dominate since Wilson was more physically imposing and athletic than his brother. To his surprise, he was easily knocked around by his brother's martial arts ability. He credits this experience as making a believer out of him, after which he would pursue martial arts. He began studying Goju-ryu Karate with Sensi Chuck Merriman for two hours a week for one year.[2]

In 1973, Wilson left the academy and earned an associate degree in electrical engineering at Brevard Community College in Florida. He then enrolled at his father's alma mater, the Florida Institute of Technology, but dropped out to pursue a professional fighting career, to the elder Wilson's disappointment. During this time, he was trained by his brother Jim in Pai Lum Kung-Fu.[2]

Don's nickname, "The Dragon" was used in his first professional kickboxing match in Orlando. He also had two other nicknames that were used at times during his long career.

In July 1977, Wilson defeated Howard Hayden. A report of the match in Official Karate Magazine said, "Don Wilson's showboat tactics have seen him through a couple of fights, but the Flash won't last long when the going gets tough." Wilson said he was hugely insulted; a few people began to refer to him as Don "The Flash" Wilson, which annoyed him. He said this inspired him to prove something: "I got serious."[2]

Kickboxing career[edit]

Wilson won a total of 11 World Titles with several sanctioning bodies that included the IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO. He won his IKF ( FCR Cruiserweight World Title on May 15, 1999 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, when he defeated Dick Kimber. (Lynn, Massachusetts, USA PRO: 23-3/21, AM: 25-0/25 5'9" 197 lbs) At the end of the 3rd round Wilson came alive and exploded with a flurry that eventually knocked Kimber to the floor motionless. Referee Dan Stell counted Kimber out on the floor, a count that went into the round break. Kimber never stood during the count.

Having never been challenged for his title, Wilson voluntarily retired it to move down to the Light Heavyweight Division, where he eventually retired from fighting a few years later.

Hall of Fame 2010 by WKL World Kickboxing League (

According to Inside Kung-Fu Presents Kickboxing Magazine (August 1992), Don Wilson's professional kickboxing record was listed as 69 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws, 46 knockout wins, and 6 kick-knockouts, and 3 no-contests. On page 64, Wilson's first match with Bill Knoblok in Orlando, Florida in December 1974 is listed as a 3 round no-contest. However, on page 52 in the same issue, Wilson said about his fight with Knoblok, " But Bill won the third round by a larger margin than I had won the first. So he won the bout." Today the official result of this fight was listed as a no-contest on Wilson's official fight record because when he decided to fight for PKA, Joe Corley felt the rule of the bout was quite different from those of PKA, Corley told Wilson to omit it.

Wilson's kickboxing career spanned 4-decades; his first fight with Bill Knoblok in 1974 and his last fight, a 10th round knockout victory over Eddie Butcher on July 19, 2002 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He defeated among others, world champions Branko Cikatic, James Warring, Dennis Alexio, and Maurice Smith. Wilson fought a draw with another champion, Jean-Yves Thériault. In 79 bouts, Wilson was only knocked out by Glen McMorris in 1980. Wilson's kickboxing record is listed as 72-5-2 (48 knockouts) with 3 no-contests.

He was noted for being an American-style kickboxer who challenged the fabled fighters from Thailand. He prevailed in most instances, only suffering a loss. However, the matches were always problematic, due to the differences in traditions, style and judging. For his fight against Samart, the officials who arranged the fight broke the previous arrangement, placing Wilson against a lighter opponent and forcing Wilson to lose 8 pounds on the day of the bout by sitting in a sauna from early morning until two hours before the bout, leaving him dangerously dehydrated. Wilson had also negotiated for a 7 round fight, which he officials also neglected. Furthermore, the thai judges only recognized Muay Thai techniques such as thai kick or those performed within the clinch, which meant that Wilson's only hope to win was to knockout Samart, which he was unable to do because of his dehydration. Wilson, a fighter used to 12 round fights, was exhausted in the 2nd round, a clear indication of the seriousness of his condition. Such reckless endangerment of a fighter's life would have been met with judicial repercussions had it occurred under a western sanctioning body.

Despite this unsporting and outrageous treatment, Wilson didn't push to have the result of the fight overturned and accepted his loss.

He was scheduled to make a comeback at 58 years old, against an unnamed opponent in a ten-rounder in Istanbul, Turkey in 2013.[3] However at the last minute the fight in Istanbul was cancelled due to "breach of contract and non-performance of financial agreements".

Kickboxing losses turned into no contests[edit]

Early in Wilson's career, he lost three fights by decision; these losses were changed into no contests by the PKA (Professional Karate Association).[4]

Wilson's first career match was against Bill Knoblock and he lost a 3rd decision. This match was later turned into a no contest by the Professional Karate Association as they listed it as an "amateur" match. "This amateur bout was part of Wilson's black belt examination."[4] However,in a 2013 interview, Wilson recalled his first fight as a loss to Bill Knoblock on January 25, 1975 as a professional match in which he was paid $100 U.S. dollars.[5] The PKA had no right to change this decision to a no contest because it was not a PKA sanctioned match, but the Space Coast Karate Tournament.

On May 28, 1976 in Tampa, Florida, Wilson lost a 5-round decision to Rudy Burney in a PKA sanctioned match.[4] However, the PKA later overturned the decision for, "improper procedures that impeded fair competition." Since the PKA sanctioned the match, they had the authority to change the decision pending their review of the match.

Finally, in September 1976, Wilson lost a 5-round points decision to Herb Thompson in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was not a PKA match, yet, they overturned the decision citing, improper procedures, inappropriate equipment which impeded fair competition.[4]

Fighting Style[edit]

Wilson was fairly notable thanks to his unique fighting style as used in the ring. He was ambidextrous, being able to switch stance on a whim and attack powerfully with either side, although he preferred to fight strong-side forward, which is a characteristic of some Chinese Martial arts. He identified himself as mainly a kicker, claiming that was his forte and the reason why he never seriously considered boxing.

He has a particularly devastating lead side kick, and was known to performed single-leg multiple kicks in rapid succession. Despite the notions concerning early kickboxers in American and full contact karate styles, Wilson was no stranger to low kicks and could both employ them or endure them with ease. Despite his focus on kicks, most of his K.O's came through his punching, and he was particularly good with his lead (right) hook punch.

As a kung fu practitioner, he has claimed numerous times that he entered sport fighting because in the 70's the notion was that kung fu stylists couldn't fight, and he set out to disprove that myth.

Commentating career[edit]

Wilson was a fight commentator and interviewer in many of the early UFC events, beginning with UFC 7 in Buffalo. He stated several times that he would be willing to fight in the UFC himself if enough fans requested it, but it never happened. He went on to be a commentator for King of the Cage.

Film appearances[edit]

Some movies to his credit include: Futurekick, Bloodfist 1-8, Ring of Fire 1, 2 & 3, Out for Blood, Operation Cobra, Blackbelt, Cyber Tracker 1 & 2, Terminal Rush, Redemption, Say Anything... Capitol Conspiracy, and Batman Forever as the leader of the Neon Gang.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Married well known film and television makeup artist Kathleen Karridene in 1996. They have three children together; Jonathan, Drayden, and Aubrianna.


  • 2010 W.K.L World Kickboxing Hall of Fame Champion
  • 2008 European Martial Arts Hall of Fame Member
  • 2000 I.S.K.A. full-contact cruiserweight North American champion -88.2 kg
  • 1999 I.K.F. Full Contact Cruiserweight World Champion -88.6 kg
  • 1989 P.K.O. full-contact light-heavyweight world champion -78 kg
  • 1988-89 I.S.K.A. full-contact cruiserweight world champion -82.7 kg (0 title defences - vacated)
  • 1984 S.T.A.R. undisputed full-contact light-heavyweight world champion -79 kg
  • 1984 W.K.A. full-contact super light-heavyweight world champion -83.2 kg
  • 1984 S.T.A.R. undisputed full-contact super light-heavyweight world champion -83.2 kg
  • 1983-84 W.K.A. full-contact cruiserweight world champion -86.4 kg (0 title defences - vacated)
  • 1983 S.T.A.R. undisputed full-contact cruiserweight world champion -86.4 kg
  • 1983-87 K.I.C.K. full-contact light-heavyweight world champion -79 kg (2 title defences)
  • 1980-91 W.K.A. full-contact light-heavyweight world champion -79 kg (9 title defences - vacated)
  • 1980 S.T.A.R. undisputed full-contact light-heavyweight world champion -79 kg
  • 1979-80 P.K.A. full-contact middleweight United States champion -77.3 kg (2 title defences)
  • 1978-79 P.K.A. full-contact middleweight Florida State champion -77.3 kg (4 title defences - vacated)

Professional kickboxing record[edit]

Professional Kickboxing Record

Legend:       Win       Loss       Draw/No contest       Exhibition       Notes

Professional boxing career[edit]

Don Wilson said in a 2015 interview that he had a 6-3-0 professional boxing record with all three defeats by first round stoppage.[5] He admits a change in his style lead to only an average boxing career.

Wilson had a brief professional boxing career. His biggest victory was against Muhammad Ali's former sparring partner John L. Johnson.[9]

Wilson's last boxing match took place against Tim Jones on October 21, 1986 at the Reseda Country Club in California. Wilson had a 6-2-0 record in professional boxing going into this match, while Jones was winless in 6 bouts. Wilson lost by TKO at 2:58 of the first round. Ironically Dennis Alexio, who lost a kickboxing match to Wilson, had already defeated Jones. Jones went on to lose his next 4 boxing matches, and retired with a 1-10-0 record.[10]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Result Record Opponent Method Date Round Time Event Location Notes
Loss[11] 6-3-0 United StatesTim Jones KO Oct 28, 1986 1 Reseda, California
Win 6-2-0 United StatesRoke Harris KO Jul 25, 1986 4 San Diego, California
Loss 5-2-0 MexicoMiguel Murillo KO Mar 17, 1986 2 Ingelwood, California
Win 5-1-0 United StatesHarold Thames TKO Feb 16, 1983 3 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Win 4-1-0 United StatesDennis Korall PTS Sep 16, 1982 6 Tampa, Florida
Win 3-1-0 United StatesUnknown KO Florida
Loss 2-1-0 Unknown TKO 1 Florida
Win 2-0-0 United StatesUnknown Florida
Win 1-0-0 United StatesJohn L. Johnson TKO 1 Cocoa Beach, Florida Mixed Match: Kickboxer vs. Boxer:Johnson throws up and match is halted.

Kickboxer vs boxer record[edit]

Result Record Opponent Method Date Round Time Event Location Notes
Win United StatesArt Jimmerson KO 1987 Jun 22 6 Cocoa Beach, Florida
Win United StatesRon Harry KO 1978 Nov 11 1 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Win United StatesJohn L. Johnson TKO Date unavailable 1 Cocoa Beach, Florida


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Say Anything... Sparring Partner Film
Bloodfist Jake Raye Film; First Time in a Lead Role
1990 Bloodfist II Jake Raye Film
1991 Ring of Fire Johnny Woo Film
Future Kick Walker Film
1992 Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight Jimmy Boland Film
Blackbelt Jack Dillon Film
Out for Blood John Decker Film (also producer)
Bloodfist IV: Die Trying Danny Holt Film (also producer)
1993 Ring of Fire II: Blood and Steel Johnny Woo Film (also producer)
Magic Kid Himself Video
1994 Bloodfist V: Human Target Jim Stanton Film
Red Sun Rising Thomas Hoshino Film
CyberTracker Eric Phillips Film
1995 Bloodfist VI: Ground Zero Nick Corrigan Film (also producer)
Ring of Fire 3: Lion Strike
(aka: Lion Strike)
Dr. Johnny Wu Film (also writer—story)
Batman Forever Gang Leader Film
Bloodfist VII: Manhunt Jim Trudell Film (also producer)
Cyber-Tracker 2 Eric Film (also producer)
The Power Within Himself Film
Virtual Combat David Quarry Film
Top Fighter Himself Documentary
1996 Bloodfist VIII: Trained to Kill Rick Cowan/George 'Mac' MacReady Film
Night Hunter Jack Cutter Film (also producer)
1997 Moesha Himself (1996 TV series) Episode: "Break It Down" (1997)
Hollywood Safari Greg Film
(aka: Operation Cobra)
Kyle Conners Film
Papertrail FBI Agent Ryu Film (as Don Wilson)
1999 Whatever It Takes Neil Film (also producer)
Terminal Rush Jacob Harper Film (also producer)
The Prophet
(aka: The Capitol Conspiracy)
Jarrid Maddox Film
2000 Moving Target Ray Brock Film (also producer)
2001 Walker, Texas Ranger Himself (1993 TV series) Episode: "Legends" (2001)
2002 Redemption John Sato Collins Video (also producer)
Modern Warriors Himself TV special
Stealing Harvard Loach's Friend Film (as Don Wilson)
Mass Destruction Himself Documentary
2003 How to Be an Action Star Himself Video
2004 Sci-Fighter Jack Tanaka Film (also producer)
2006 Crooked
(aka: Soft Target)
Danny Tyler Film (also producer)
18 Fingers of Death! Himself Video
2007 The Last Sentinel Tallis Film (as Don Wilson) (also producer)
2009 Hollywood Lives Himself TV series (one episode)
2012 Liberator Sidewinder Film (also producer)
2014 The Whole World at Our Feet Film
The Martial Arts Kid Glen Film
One More Round Bob Paulson Film
White Tiger Bobby Pau Film
2015 The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power Film
Showdown in Manila Film Pre-production


  1. ^ Roddy Piper. "PIPER'S PIT with Roddy Piper". Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  2. ^ a b c Inside Kungfu August 1992
  3. ^ "LiverKick". LiverKick. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Don Wilson". Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  5. ^ a b "Don " The Dragon " Wilson (Us)". 1954-09-10. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  6. ^ "KICKBOXER HAS NEW AIM DON WILSON RETIRES FROM RING, FOCUSES ON ACTING". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  7. ^ "Dedicated to The Dragon". Don "The Dragon" Wilson. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  8. ^ "Career Highlights: Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson Professional Kickboxing Record". (August 1992). Inside Kung-Fu Presents Kickboxing magazine, p. 64
  9. ^ "John L Johnson". BoxRec. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  10. ^ "Tim Jones". BoxRec. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 
  11. ^ "Tim Jones". BoxRec. Retrieved 2015-08-16. 

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