The animal-loving action star displayed the collection of dogs he’s rescued from all over the world during an emotional scene for documentary series Jean-Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors.
In the footage, the Bloodsport actor struggles to contain his emotions while cuddling his dogs as he prepares to leave his native Belgium to begin a new training regime ahead of a kickboxing match.
Choking back tears, he says, “I heard in some countries they say when you’re a bad person you come back as a dog. Amazing. I want to stay with my dogs. I want to win this fight and then stay with my dogs. I’m so lucky.”
Van Damme goes on to reveal his respect for animals developed after a devastating experience hunting octopus as a youngster.
He recalls, “One day I felt so bad, I killed one (and) I was crying. When you take octopus, you have to beat the muscle against the rock so the meat is becoming tender. I was able to feed my family for three days on that. It was delicious with rice and everything, it was fantastic.
“But since then I never killed an animal again. I felt so bad. His eyes were looking at me and I saw intelligence in his eyes. When you see eyes, you see soul, you see life. I think we’re more made to eat vegetables, wheat, lots of fruit, brown rice, pasta.”