If you’re a fan of the Fastchise—and we all should be—you’ll know veteran actor Jason Statham as the classic villain-turned-bestie of Dom Toretto and gang. And while Statham—playing MI6 agent Deck Shaw—may have been put through the ringer in the Fast and Furious films only to become an integral part of the family cookout by Fast 8, it’s important to remember that before he became part of the Fast Family, he had a whole other life as a professional diver.
You heard that right: as a young man, Statham’s passion for diving had him putting in 12 years as a member of Britain’s National Swimming Squad. What’s that, you say? Pics or it didn’t happen? We’ll do you one better.
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In this 1990 clip, a young Statham shows excellent form (if, as the commentator points out, “far too much forward action”) while performing a three-millimeter springboard jump. It was the Commonwealth Games—sort of a UK-specific Olympics—and Statham was well-prepared. The phrase “3 1/2 somersault with tuck” might conjure up images that feel slightly less sports-related, but call us Trinity, because anywhere there’s a tuck happening, we’re here for it.
So what happening to Statham’s promising diving career? Basically people figured out that the man was too hot to be limited to a professional diving career. At a diving competition, Statham’s physique snagged the attention of an agent who started to get him sports modeling gigs. One thing led to another, and suddenly the champion diver was driving cars that fell out of planes and chasing Vin Diesel through the hospital.
This year’s Emmys had no shortage of iconic gay moments, including an appearance by the internet’s new favorite goblin.
Obviously it didn’t quite happen like that, but the change was swift. While modeling, Statham caught Guy Ritchie’s eye, and history was made, in the form of the seminal crime thriller Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
Basically, it all could have gone the other way: we could have been denied the power of Statham as screen icon so easily. Thankfully, by a stroke of fate, the action star remains zaddyrific and still lighting up the screen at 56. That’s what they call staying power.
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