Michel Qissi began studying boxing at the age of 7 and within 10 years he had become an amateur champion. In addition to boxing, he trained in various forms of martial arts with his close friend Jean-Claude Van Damme. The two moved to the United States together in 1982 to pursue a career in Hollywood, and got their big break four years later when they signed a three-picture deal with Cannon Films. In the 1988 biopic "Bloodsport", Van Damme starred and Qissi played a smaller role as competition fighter Suan Paredes. In the pair's second film, "Cyborg", Qissi stayed off-screen, instead acting as Van Damme's personal trainer. However, in the 1989 action film "Kickboxer", Qissi scored the leading role of Tong Po, which remains his most famous character. Following "Kickboxer", he landed his second leading role in "Lionheart", which ended up being his final collaboration with Van Damme. Qissi returned to the role of Tong Po in the 1991 sequel "Kickboxer 2". In 1993, he directed his first film, "Terminator Woman", a martial-arts cop movie in which he also played the villain, and followed that project with another directorial venture, the 2001 action film "Extreme Force".