Today I decided to talk with the one of the greatest kickboxers of XX century, who at the age of twenty-eight retired as the two-time World Kickboxing Champion to embark upon a career in the entertainment business. The International kickboxing media once called him the flashiest fighter and fastest kicker in the sport of kickboxing (Trimble’s hook-kick’ was clocked at 118 MPH). His ring notoriety gained him world recognition with his flamboyant style of fighting and lightning fast jump spinning kicks that would always guarantee him the crowd favorite. I present you Jerry “Golden Boy” Trimble. Enjoy!
Budomate: Mr. Trimble, please tell us more about your archievements in martial arts, who was your first coach, how and when did you come to your first club? Who was your inspiration?
Jerry Trimble: At age 14, I was a shy kid with no confidence in myself. I was so shy that girls would break up with me because I was afraid to kiss them. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the bullies would pick on me too many times. One time in particular, I remember after football practice two football players threw me to the ground and stuffed a cigar in my mouth. I was humiliated to say the least.
Then, as I did every weekend with my friends, I went to the movie theater to escape reality and the troubles of being an insecure teen. But this one weekend was different, the movie I saw was Chinese Connection and when Bruce Lee jumped onto the screen my life was changed forever. I went into the theater a bullied shy kid afraid of his own shadow and came out a future Champion with a cause. I was destined to be somebody and not take any shit from anyone ever again.
I went home excited about the possibilities and approached my parents about joining a dojo. They laughed and said “no, now go out and play with your friends” but the Bruce Lee mentality was still lingering in me and it fueled my desire even more. So I went to the magazine store and bought up every martial arts magazine I could afford with about three dollars in my pocket. I went home and marched upstairs, locked myself in my bedroom, opened the magazines, spread them all over my room and begin studying via the magazine master.
After a few weeks of jumping around, punching, kicking and yelling, my parents thought they’d better get me some help before I either kill myself or destroy the house. At age 15, my uncle, took me to the local dojo that recently opened up in our hometown of Newport Kentucky and enrolled me into a Taekwon-Do dojo, under instructor Richard Hamilton. He was a fantastic teacher, I learned a lot from him.
I remember the first day being in the restroom with my gi on, as silly as it may seem, I was terrified to walk out and onto the mat barefooted. I thought, great, once again my fear is getting the best of me. So, I thought about Bruce lee, took a deep breath, walked out and never looked back. I got my groove on and became obsessed with taekwon-Do and kicking. I set a goal to be the fastest kicker in the world. I was on a mission.
I trained 6 days a week, as often as I could. When I didn’t have a ride to the dojo, I hiked miles across town to train.
Of course all the training began to take away my first love which was movies, editing and writing that I did often as a teen. Needless to say everything would come full circle.
When I turned yellow belt, I started sparring and picked it up very quick. I loved the thrill of fighting. I guess I was getting my frustrations out. As a green belt, I begin competing in tournaments. Got clobbered in my first one, and then learned what I did wrong. Soon after I started winning every tournament I competed in.
I was ranked as the top junior fighter in the Midwest U.S.
A few months into it, I started teaching and developed a sincere passion for helping others. I was losing my shyness and started developing what I call Bruce Lee confidence.
In my senior year of high school, I did a half a day in school, got out at 11am went to the dojo and worked from noon until 9 pm. Sparring was my favorite thing to do. I would spar everyone and anyone I could find, no matter the rank or size of the opponent. You might say I was obsessed with it and it would eventually payoff as I went on to become one of the top point fighters in the U.S.
After watching a kickboxing match on NBC, (the late Howard Jackson vs. Richard Jackson) I thought to myself, I’m going to do this and become World Champion. I mapped out a plan of attack and at 18, after graduating from high school I started kickboxing and won the Kentucky state kickboxing championship.
At 19, I moved to Atlanta Georgia to run a TKD school and started fighting under Asa Gordon and Tony Mullinax. I went on to become the Georgia state champion, the southeast lightweight champion, the U.S. Champion. I had my own column in “Karate Illustrated” magazine (one of my first instructors) called “Martial Arts A Way of Life.”
I opened my own dojo in Marietta Georgia, called Trimble’s Martial Arts and Fitness and on April 26th 1986 I became the PKA and PKC World Kickboxing Champion.
At 28 years old, with a successful dojo, two world titles, my own column in a national magazine and everything going for me, there was something still missing. I decided to sell my dojo and move to Los Angeles California in pursuit of my first love in the Entertainment industry. My life had come full circle.
Budomate: Do you remember your first class mates and are you still in contact? Maybe you are still in contact with your first instructor or visited your first club recently?
Jerry Trimble: My first class mates? every once in a while I will talk to someone from back in the day, not too often though. It seems we’ve all gone on separate paths. It’s always nice to hear from someone from my past. It brings back fond memories.
Budomate: Most parents want to see us in another field than we choose, so what future parents wanted for you, in professional field? Any family traditions? What was their reaction on your trainings?
Jerry Trimble: At first my father thought I was crazy to want to go the route of martial arts. He kept saying you need a job that will give you health insurance and benefits. That was his main concern and he was right, but to work hard labor at Kroger warehouse wasn’t for me. I needed to grow and I couldn’t do it in Kentucky. I saw a future that they didn’t see. I know they are proud of me and of my accomplishments and are glad I went after my goals and dreams, as sad as it may have been at the time.
Jerry Trimble: Back then, I believe the schools were closer, the students the instructors, it was like one back happy family. Most of the styles would stay within their own style. If you trained with another school it was taboo, for most, not all.
Today, the schools, the arts are more of flash and pizzazz, more commercialized and so much more competition. Everyone wants to be top dog. I believe that ego’s run rampant in the arts far more than they did back in the day. The arts have changed so much. It’s the time of MMA. Every style can work together. I don’t believe there is any one best style. On any given day anyone can be beat no matter who you are. All it takes is one shot. I like the idea of throwing everything in but the kitchen sink. It’s a new day, a new time in the martial arts for sure.
Budomate: Talking about times when you just arrived to LA, where did you start from?
Jerry Trimble: I was living in Atlanta Georgia, thinking about my next move in life. I fought my last fight in November 1989’ and decided that after accomplishing my dream of becoming world champion, it was time to move on to bigger and better things, so, I sold everything I had and in March 1990, I moved to L.A. to pursue my biggest challenge ever, show business.
Budomate: Did you take any acting courses, maybe you were lucky to meet some celebrity who helped you to break into Hollywood? I have seen your photo with Al Pacino, are you a long time friends?
Jerry Trimble: No, I didn’t take any acting classes, couldn’t afford them in the beginning, but after my first few films, I saved a bit of money and realized that like fighting, I needed to train, so I enrolled into some classes. As far as Al Pacino, he is a great guy, he was friendly and very cool on set. An absolute pleasure to work with, it was another dream come true to work with him and Robert DeNiro.
Budomate: I remember your character of the hunting for money father in Breathing Fire movie, how did you get this part?
Jerry Trimble: When I moved to L.A. I started teaching Karate at a Chuck Norris studio and met and signed with a talent manager, who sent me on out on my first two auditions in the same week. The Masters and Breathing Fire, I booked both lead villain roles in that week. And so it all began.
Budomate: You were shooting alongside the best bad guy of all times Bolo Yeung, what can you say about him and his works?
Budomate: Definitely martial arts movie Breathing Fire was devoted to TKD art, how crew was connected to TKD or it is only a script?
Jerry Trimble: It was what I chose to do. The director and producers liked it and said go with it. My specialty was kicking, so I did what I was good at.
Budomate: One of your movie’s sons is Jonathan Ke Quan who best known as a kid from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but I haven’t heard any of Eddie Saavedra, can you tell about him?
Jerry Trimble: Didn’t know Eddie to well, he seemed like a nice kid though, I believe that was his first film. I haven’t heard anything about him since.
Budomate: In 1993 you got your first main part in the Full Contact film, can you tell something interesting about behind the scene work?
Jerry Trimble: It was the first of many Roger Corman movies. Long hours, lots of fighting, action and had a blast. It was a fun shoot. Made some new friends.
Budomate: I know Michael Jai White and Howard Jackson were working in this movie too, can you say about your work together?
Jerry Trimble: Michael was the referee in my fight scenes he was a pro. Howard Jackson, I never actually worked with, but from what I knew of him, a GREAT man.
Budomate: You worked with Cirio H. Santiago on One Man Army and Live by the Fist. These movies were filming in Philippines. I know some martial artists started his careers there in 90s, please tell more about your Asian experience.
Jerry Trimble: Cirio Santiago was a cool cat. I did about 5 films with him. He was the MAN in the Philippines. We became very good friends. I filmed everywhere in the Philippines, it was always an adventure. The crew was GREAT. So friendly and helpful and masters at their craft. That was the cool thing about shooting in Asia, was the crew, they would do anything to make my shoot more comfortable. The stunt guys were tougher than nails, fearless in whatever they did.
Budomate: Your last movie was The Green Hornet movie in 2011, you played Chudnofsky’s Gang. Vic Armstrong was a stunt coordinator and Jeff Imada, a fighting choreographer. Did you worked with them before? And what is your opinion on this remake, because Shannon Lee, a daughter of Bruce, gave it only C+ ?
Jerry Trimble: I’ve worked with the legend, Vic Armstrong many times, he is the GREATEST guy with impeccable talent as an action director. Jeff Imada I met years ago, this was the first time we worked together. Jeff has a resume a mile long and it shows in his work. A real gem to work with.
Budomate: Apart of movie making you are working with kids?
Jerry Trimble: I’ve always connected with kids, especially at risk kids and I feel that I have something to give back. I try and help them to get out of their comfort zone, inspire their inner champion so that they can reach their maximum potential and accomplish their dreams. That is priceless.
Budomate: My traditional question – which 3 martial arts movies made in US you can call a classic?
Budomate: Thanks you very much Mr. Trimble for your time. Wish you all the best.
Jerry Trimble: Thank you, Roman
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