World-renowned actor Jean-Claude Van Damme will open the first branch of the sports center chain he aims to establish together with local partners in Turkey's Kocaeli province.
The famous Hollywood star came to Kocaeli to evaluate the dealership requests made for the JCVD Fitness & Health brand, which the actor is to launch together with Turkish businessmen Burçin Şahin and Taner Barlas.
The sports chain's head office will be located in Izmit, while branches are also expected to be opened in other cities in the world.
Van Damme, who made a statement to journalists at the residence where the first branch of the sports chain is scheduled to open, said he was very happy to be in Turkey.
Stressing that Kocaeli is a beautiful city, Van Damme praised the clean air of the province, adding that it has a beautiful lake and beautiful forests for walking.
Stressing his love for sports, Van Damme said: "I always dreamed of establishing a fitness center. This is an international project. We plan to open the first example in Kocaeli."
Barlas, Şahin and Roney Muller underscored their aim to open branches all over the world.
"Van Damme is a very popular athlete, actor and producer in the world. He loves to play sports, and that is why we have implemented such a project. We will carry out franchising fitness centers within this project," Şahin said.
He also said their other partner Taner will constantly bring famous athletes from abroad to the sports centers they establish. Indicating they will realize Van Damme's dream with the project, Şahin said they will create a fitness and aging system that will be expanded across the entire world from Turkey.
Şahin also said that next year they plan to give 100 franchises around the world, including 30 in Turkey. "We will provide jobs to thousands of people with the centers we open in Turkey. In the first phase, we'll target an annual turnover of $200 million.
Born Oct. 18, 1960, Van Damme is a Belgian actor, martial artist, screenwriter, film producer and director best known for his martial arts action films.
A champion martial artist and bodybuilder as a teenager, he used his physical abilities to become the star of American action films.
He began studying Shotokan karate at age 11, and also eagerly took to weightlifting and ballet. As a teenager, Van Damme won the middleweight championship of the European Professional Karate Association and was named "Mr. Belgium" in a bodybuilding competition.