Gary Edward Daniels (born 9 May 1963) is an English actor and retired professional and amateur kickboxer who scored 33 knockout victories, and a former World Light-heavyweight Kickboxing Champion (P.K.A.); known for appearing in action-oriented martial arts B-films. Daniels has performed in over 50 films since his start as an extra in an episode of the 1980s television series Miami Vice. He is best known for playing Kenshiro in the live-action version of Fist of the North Star. He is also known for his roles in the Jackie Chan film City Hunter, and as Bryan Fury in the 2010 live-action film Tekken, based upon the popular fighting game series. He was also seen in the Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables as Lawrence "The Brit" Sparks, an ally of the villain James Munroe.
Gary Daniels was born in London, England, on 9 May 1963. Inspired by the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, Daniels began training in martial arts at the age of 8 at a local school where he learned a hybrid martial art known as "Mongolian Kung Fu" that combined wing chun, boxing, Mongolian Wrestling and Wushu, that was found in late 1960's. He then took up taekwondo at 12 years old and received his black belt after 3 years. At 16, he became a 2nd dan and began competing in ITF taekwondo tournaments. His aggressive style did not sit well with British officials, however, and he lost 3 fights by disqualification. Daniels also trains kickboxing, muay thai and kung fu.
Daniels began kickboxing at the age of seventeen under the tutelage of former British Army boxing champion Mickey Byrne. He debuted in 1979, and compiled a record of 13 victories (13 knockouts) and 3 defeats; including two matches with Jean-Claude Van Damme opponent, Michael J. Heming. Daniels early matches in England and in the United States were amateur matches.
In 1980, Daniels decided to leave England and move to the state of Florida in the United States to continue his career.
Daniels had an amateur kickboxing record of 31 wins, 30 by knockout and 4 defeats.
In the late 1980s, Daniels moved to California and began practicing Muay Thai at Benny Urquidez's Jet Center and Yuki Horiuchi's Piston Kickboxing Gym. He also became a professional kick-boxer,
In November 1990, Daniels won the WKBA California State Light Heavyweight Championship and the PKA World Light Heavyweight Championship in England within the space of a month.
On 3 December 1991 in Birmingham, England, Daniels fought a 3-round, No Decision, exhibition match with 11-time World Kickboxing Champion Don "The Dragon" Wilson at the World Martial Arts Extravaganza.
Daniels retired with an undefeated professional kickboxing record of 4-0-0 with 2 knockouts.
Fifteen years later in 2008, Daniels made a one-fight comeback in Thailand at the age of 45 and he lost by decision after 5 rounds.
Daniels began his film career in the Philippines, appearing in two low-budget films Final Reprisal and The Secret of King Mahis Island. His first starring film role was in the David Huey film Capital Punishment in 1991. He played a villain alongside Richard Norton in the film adaptation of City Hunter starring Jackie Chan; he was particularly known for a fight scene where he and Chan transform into various characters from the video game Street Fighter II. By 1996 Daniels had begun working on projects as a producer. His first producer credit occurred in the Joseph Merhi film Rage. Throughout his career he has also served as a fight coordinator. He can also be seen in the Steven Seagal project Submerged, directed by Anthony Hickox. He is still best known for portraying the heroic Kenshiro in the American live-action version of Japanese manga Fist of the North Star.
Among Daniels's fans, films that stand out include American Streetfighter, White Tiger, Bloodmoon, Recoil, Rage, Riot, Firepower, Heatseeker and Cold Harvest. Fist of the North Star also holds a considerable cult following. In 2012 he was in a film called "The Encounter: Paradise Lost"
Gary portrayed Bryan Fury in the film version of the popular video game series Tekken. He also starred in Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables as the Brit and appears in a controversial scene in which his neck is snapped. Daniels re-teams with Steve Austin and Eric Roberts in Hunt to Kill.
Daniels was once considered for the role of Johnny Cage in the movie version of Mortal Kombat. He was also a front runner for the lead role in the hit series Highlander: The Series but lost the role to Adrian Paul.
Compared to martial arts actors such as Jet Li or Steven Seagal, Daniels's fighting style is much less classifiable. He has studied muay thai, kickboxing, taekwondo, boxing, ninjitsu, and Northern Shaolin kung fu. In his films, he employs a mixed martial arts style, leading with strong, sweeping kicks and sometimes engaging in close quarters fights with complex hand to hand choreography. As he mentions on the commentary track on the Fist of the North Star DVD, his main discipline is the hybrid kung fu art, Siu Lum Wong Gar Kune (Shaolin Wong Family Fist), which he studied under Sifu Winston Omega, who also served as fight choreographer on Fist of the North Star.