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I’m in Pain But I’m Not in a Wheelchair Yet, Says Martial Arts Legend, Jet Li

Martial arts legend Jet Li Lianjie’s frail appearance in a Tibet temple has shocked many fans around the world, but it wasn’t too long ago the 55-year-old actor looked a picture of health – at least on the silver screen.

Struggling with hyperthyroidism and spinal problems as a result of decades of tough movie-making, the Beijing-born kung fu superstar’s health has been in decline since he revealed in 2010 that he was suffering from the debilitating condition.

The Hollywood icon, who starred in Lethal Weapon 4 and Romeo Must Die, admitted he has not been in the best of health in recent years.

“I’ve suffered from illnesses, for example hyperthyroidism. I am fat but I can’t lose weight because I am taking medication for my illness. The medication is to control my heart beat. That’s why I can’t do lots of exercise,” said Li, who revealed his resting heart rate was around 130 to 140 beats per minute (a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm).

“He has hyperthyroidism that he’s been dealing with for almost 10 years. It’s nothing life-threatening and he’s dealing with it,” Chasman told the Washington Post.

Li said he had tackled his condition “head-on” and “aggressively” when he was first diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and although treatment was successful at first, he suffered a relapse.

Li is the youngest in his family and experienced hardship at an early age when he lost his father at the age of two. Growing up in a middle-class family in Beijing, his mother had to take care of five children. Li took up kung fu at the age of eight when martial arts was growing in popularity.

Jet Li fans share their personal battles with hyperthyroidism, as martial arts icon’s health problems continue to shock

Li excelled in wushu and became national all-round martial arts champion for five consecutive years between 1975 and 1979. Fame came at an early age for him as news of his dazzling skills caught the eye of then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, while performing in the opening ceremony of an international table tennis competition in 1972.

By the time he was 17, the wushu practitioner had already travelled to North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia to perform. However, he suffered his first major injury at 18 when he tore his knee and required seven and a half hours of surgery.

He retired from competition in 1979 to focus on a movie career and got his first big break when he starred in Shaolin Temple in 1982 but injuries were already beginning to mount after the young actor broke his leg among other injuries.

He recovered and years later re-enacted the role of Wong Fei-hung in 1991. His movies broke local box office records along the way.


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