In many of Chan's interviews for 'G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra' he mentioned that, even more than Duke, he really wanted to play the role of martial arts expert Snakes Eyes. That particular dream started way back in elementary school when he was a talented karate student in Mississippi running around his backyard with his mom's stockings on his head (to mimmick Snakes Eyes).
Chan's favorite karate coach, Kenneth Hendrix, recently contacted me and was nice enough to share some great photos of Chan as a 5th grader, with his karate class as a green belt, and at Chan's red belt test. Here's what Kenneth had to say about the little boy that used his natural talents to make a huge impression on him (WAY before he ever impressed any of us)...
"I know you must be a very busy trying to keep up with Chan's popularity and demand. My two little boys think he's the man. Enclosed please find 3 photo's of Chan for your enjoyment. One is Chan at 10 years old in 5th grade, the next is me and Chan after his red belt test and the next one is a class picture with Chan (green belt) standing next to the Grandmaster of the system from Kuala Lumpar Malasysia-- Chee Kim Thong. 4 people from this picture along with myself later became AAU National Kung Fu Champions 1993-95 representing the US National team. Only 25 people were selected to this team. Chan was so good I have no doubt that he would have been there also. He was a nightmare to his competitors. It was amazing to see him in action. He looks the same to me just older. I have some more pictures I will send you along with some videos from back then. It is taking some time due to fact fact Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of my archives but some have survived.
In my minds eye I still see him as this 10 year old kid standing with his legs crossed chewing on a fingernail as he absorbed the lessons in class. He has surely turned into a fine, good-looking young man and I wish him the best along to his new Bride. Thanks for allowing me to send these to you to share for an early look at the sensation that has swept the nation now known as "Channing Tatum". You're doing a great job with the monumental task of keeping the public informed on Chan the Man. Send his parents my best..."
I can't thank Kenneth enough for the awesome photos and personal insights into Chan, and I look forward to being able to share even more with you all in the future. You can check out a few more personal pics that Ken sent me below. Enjoy!