Dolph Lundgren. Dolph bloomin Lundgren.

Take a breath and just allow the consequences of that name to sink in. The enormity of it, what it means: the hair, the body, the images it conjures up.

Ready? Ivan Drago, the finest flat top to have graced this planet. Need I go on? Here's an academic-turned-actor who, during the making of Rocky IV in 1985, took a pop at Sylvester Stallone and put him in hospital for four days. Fact.

He's been He-Man, he also took a swipe at James Bond in View to a Kill, speaks five languages, got a Masters degree in chemical engineering (Masters of the Universe perhaps?) and he's pretty useful in judo and karate.

Imagine reading that CV when the giant Swede applied to be leader of the American modern pentathlon team ahead of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Dolph appeared in a movie called Pentathlon in 1994
What? Modern pentathlon? Lundgren? I thought I was dreaming when I did a random internet search for "Olympics" and "celebrities" last week. He was even in a film called Pentathlon in 1994. You couldn't make it up. I haven't made it up.

With the modern pentathlon world championships coming up in Hungary it seemed the perfect time to make my move. And guess what? I tracked him down. I didn't think this kind of superstar existed. They're in all the big movies, they stare down at you from posters, stickers of them are on your pencil case, they might even be your computer screensaver.

But they don't actually speak to anyone, do they? Not properly, not unless there's a massive film to promote or they're lauding it over their latest Oscar nomination.

Well I hunted him down in true Lundgren style, only without a fist being lifted. Good job too. Within 24 hours his representative sent me an email. I was expecting, at the very most, "Thankyou for your enquiry, but Mr Lundgren is unavailable at this time as he's out of the country filming his latest movie about shooting aliens and saving the planet."

Subject title of the email that came back..... "LUNDGREN: BBC SPORT CONFIRMED" in all the big capital letters. Get in there Dolph.

My biggest journalistic coup since squeezing a few words out of Sir Alex Ferguson. Hold on, lose the word "journalist", make that my biggest coup of all time.

Mind you, knocking over Mickey Mouse three foot from a hotel swimming pool in Jersey in 1983 getting Keith Chegwin to shake my hand pushes it close.

It's normally far more difficult to chase Dolph down

Lundgren was indeed overseas in Bulgaria filming an action movie called Direct Contact. The plot involves an American prisoner in an eastern European jail being given a chance at freedom if he can rescue a kidnapped American woman away from a ruthless warlord. And no, Dolph is not the one wearing a dress. But amazingly he was up for a phone call.

So why modern pentathlon? Did he really lead the Yanks in Atlanta? How were his pentathlon skills? Did he fight any horses? So many questions. All my research was applied with a smile as wide as one of his arms. That's big by the way.

According to the great man, his love for the sport all kicked off when he made the movie Pentathlon in the early '90s. He was trained during production by two US pentathletes and has since been on a mission to promote the sport and save it from the "endangered list" of Olympics sports.

Ahead of the Atlanta Olympics, Lundgren was chosen to lead the American team and work alongside the pentathletes and coaches. He revealed in his interview that, despite never participating in a whole event, he did take part in all the individual disciplines (fencing, shooting, swimming, showjumping and cross country running) as well as training the athletes.

Dolph fencing

His best event? Fencing (because of his karate background he told us) and yep you've guessed it, shooting. Not to mention his equine skills. Being a rather large guy meant he was given the big and powerful horses which proved to be quite a challenge.

His devotion and enthusiasm for the sport was obvious.

Since its Olympic debut in 1912 in Sweden, modern pentathlon remains in the Olympics. Not a bad effort for something not boasting huge numbers of participants.

Let's face it, is anybody really going to say to a man 6 foot 5 inches high, and probably just as wide, who at the age of 51 still does kick boxing and karate to stay in shape, "Dolph, sorry old boy, I like your films, especially the boxing one, but modern pentathlon's being replaced with golf"?


Primed with Mark's questions, BBC Sport's Russell Fuller spoke to Dolph Lundgren on 5 Live on Tuesday. Listen to the full interview

Mark Ashenden is a BBC Sport journalist focusing on the Olympic Dreams series. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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