Chinese Hercules: David “Bolo Jr.” Yeung

David Yeung kickEven if you’ve never followed much in the way of fitness and bodybuilding, David Yeung might look familiar.  He’s the son of  Bolo Yeung, the legendary martial arts action star from movies like Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport.   

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with “Bolo Jr.” several years ago when we were both heavily involved in the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He showed some incredible potential on the competitive scene and also happened to be an all-around good guy, so we’ve stayed in touch.

Life has changed over the years, however, and David is now a strength trainer for MMA athletes and has a Youtube channel showing some pretty impressive training displays, which were what sparked my interest in getting in touch with him again to find out what he’s been up to…

IaML: David, it’s been a while but it’s great to be in touch again.  Let’s start with introducing you to everyone with a bit of background information.  When and where were you born, and at what point did you catch the physical fitness bug?

DY: I was born in Hong Kong on July 3, 1974.

My dad started teaching me Chinese tai chi at when I was 5. It is very hard to understand what training is about at such a young age, and his massive body often intimidated me. He took me to my first karate school at age 7 and I became a martial artitst.

Young David Yeung

Already planning to be champion.

I had been consistent and trained for several years, but it was very hard to keep up my endurance ‘cause my body was often weak and got hit several times while sparring.

My dad then decided to take me to the gym to start weight training. At first, I just wanted to develop a physique like Bruce Lee and Sylvester Stallone, so I wasn’t ever planning to train like a bodybuilder.

Bolo and David Yeung Training

The family that trains together stays together.

In 1989 my dad start promoting his first bodybuilding show in Hong Kong and a year after, at age 14, he took me to compete in my first teenage bodybuilding competition. That’s how i get in to this.

IaML: Your father, Bolo, was one of the biggest and most recognizable stars in martial arts films, particularly for starring along side Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport. What was it like growing up surrounded by all of that, and was there much pressure for you to follow in your dad’s footsteps, or was it all something you naturally gravitated towards?

Bolo Yeung Enter the Dragon

Bolo vs. Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon

 

DY: Well, it was very difficult growing up around him. Every single day we were walking out somewhere and people would recognize him and follow us. I became used to it, though, and was eventually wanting to get attention like my father. He was definitely inspirational to me when he did the filming of Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee.

 

David Yeung before and after bodybuilding

Years of hard work paying off.

IaML: You spent several years working incredibly hard towards attaining a top-level bodybuilding physique.  At what point did you decide to retire from competitive bodybuilding, and what was the key reason?  How do you feel now in comparison?

DY: Like I say, nothing in life comes easy. I started training like a pro at age 12 and by 2003 I had already decided to retire from competitive bodybuilding. I had physical warnings to stop and a knee injury made me realize I wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to continue with.

David Yeung then and now

From freak physique to Mr. Sleek.

I started questioning myself. I knew it would be hard giving up, but I also knew what was more important in my life. So, I planned to retire and started losing weight. To drop over 60 pound of muscle ain’t easy. <laughs> But i did it.

I got back into kickboxing training and I feel great now. I never thought in my mind that I could do it. I understood that this wasn’t impossible, though, and I knew I would have to try with everything to really know if I could and to really understand myself. I made it happen.

IaML: Based on recent Youtube videos you’ve posted, it appears that you’re ramping up for something big. Is it something competitive, or are you venturing into action films?

DY: Everyone has their own talent, but nobody knows their true skill. Coming from bodybuilding & martial arts backgrounds, I want to prove something to myself. I want to see what I’m capable of. I also want to prove that we can transform into whatever we can imagine.

To get into the film industry and find an agent isn’t easy. I had a few producers offering me movie rolls, but I nothing I felt would fit. And of course I’d like to be in film to express myself and to show some things that no one else can. I started making Youtube videos to get more subscribers.

IaML: Speaking of those videos, you’ve been pulling off some rather impressive feats of strength. Having tried a couple of  your “Superman pushups,” I can say that they are insane and not easy. I won’t even attempt your one-finger pull-ups, though. What else is on your list of badass things you can do that no one else can?

DY: <laughs> Well, its taken me years of training to just get one video scene. Of course, I have a few other functional balance exercises, but I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to my Youtube channel for those. Once again, I am sure there are a few people from around the world who can do the same things that I’m doing.

IaML: I know you’ve trained with some of the best in the fitness business and I believe you’ve helped to train some significant celebrities and professional athletes, too. Can you elaborate on any of the well-known people you’ve trained over the years?

David Yeung and Kobe Bryant

David and Kobe Bryant

DY: During my years of fitness training, I had trained Magic Johnson from the L.A. Lakers, Sean Jones from the NFL, the

Flex Wheeler, Bolo, Rico McClinton, David Yeung

Flex Wheeler, Bolo, Rico Mclinton and David Yeung

 UCLA football team, some film producers, a comedic movie director and amateur and pro MMA fighters for strength and conditioning. I also had some great workout partners, like IFBB pro bodybuilder Flex Wheeler, Hollywood actor Rico Mcclinton, from the movie Battleship, and a few other IFBB bodybuilders like Chris Cormier, Paul Dillet and others.

Catching air... and kicking its ass.

Catching air… and kicking its ass.

IaML: We’ve known one another for several years now, and you give off the vibe of being much happier and satisfied with life now. Has anything changed to bring that on, or is it just a matter of an ever evolving life and enjoying the changes that come along?

DY: Let me just say that happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. To me, I’m always moving to the next step.

Besides an acting career, I also want to share my training experience and knowledge to help others. Man, you just have to believe in yourself and take the big steps. You need to at least try for things once, but never be afraid to fall. Don’t forget to be understanding and always learning about your own meaning in the game of life.

Yeung Stance

IaML: What are your future plans from this point, and what should we expect to see from you over the coming years?

DY: Besides my acting career, I’m also planning to have my own training studio for the people who want to transform their body, build speed and strength and learn a few martial arts skills. This year I will do my best to find a film roll that suits me and I’m definitely willing to step up my experience and to push myself to the next level.

Note:  Thanks to David “Bolo Jr.” Yeung for his time and check out some of the work he’s been doing on his Youtube channel.  Let’s hope to see him taking on the role of action star soon on the big screen.

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Comments

  1. Amazing inerview. The man has achieved a lot in his career and is definitely an inspiration. I can only imagine the heartbreak of quitting something he loved and dropping 60lb (!!) of muscle. That must have been extremely tough to deal with and to have to make such a decision is surely agonising.

    I’ll follow him on YouTube and hope to see more stuff from him. A genuinely fascinating individual.