A documentary on Stefanos Miltsakakis, the legendary Greek American fighter who became a popular bad guy in action movies, was released recently.
The Greek American actor died in 2019 at the age of 60 in Los Angeles.
Born in humble surroundings in Provatonas, a small village near the town of Alexandroupoli in northern Greece in 1959, he shot to fame fighting Jean-Claude Van Damme in five Hollywood movies.
“I remember fighting as soon as I started to walk,” he said in a TV interview in 2011.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest fighters and one of the most intriguing individuals to have graced this earth, Stefanos Miltsakakis chose to live and die humbly, often flying under the radar.
Despite his remarkable achievements, he was a kind soul dedicated to training and mentoring others, fundamentally changing lives through his philosophy and genuine care.
With Van Damme, he collaborated in Lionheart, in which he plays a soldier on a jeep, and La Prova, where he plays a Greek wrestler. They also worked together in Maximum Risk and Derailed in which Miltsakakis plays a killer and a hijacker, respectively. However, Miltsakakis was also a great fighter in real life.
On September 27, 1999, he took part in the 9th Vale Tudo World Championship during which he won against judoka Joe Charles in 8:38 minutes, recording a personal record. In 2002, he participated in the 14th Vale Tudo, during which he won against Mariano Mendoza.
Miltsakakis was also a world champion in “Pagration,” an ancient Greek sport that combines wrestling and boxing. Following his retirement in 2011, he established a gym in Venice CA.
Documentary unravels Miltsakakis’ life
The film also incorporates footage from his fights, training sessions, movie scenes, and interviews with Stephen Brown. Crafted by Iordanis Kioumourtzoglou, Stephen Brown, and Konstantinos Mousoulis, this documentary incorporates a unique set of perspectives.
Kioumourtzoglou, Miltsakakis’ nephew and a 3D artist and photographer in LA, spent the last seven years of Stefanos’ life in his vicinity. Stephen Brown, a director and actor, was not only Miltsakakis’ neighbor but also a cherished friend for over twenty-five years.
Konstantinos Mousoulis, a Greek director and scriptwriter who is passionate about martial arts, became close friends with Miltsakakis after his move to L.A. twelve years ago. Before his passing, Mousoulis expressed the desire to create a film about Stefanos’ life.
“United by our profound love, admiration, and respect for Miltsakakis, we collaborated to produce this memorial documentary aiming to share his philosophy and inspire positive change in the lives of viewers,” the three contributors said.
“In his presence, I always felt in awe”
Miltsakakis was a martial arts trainer and mentor for Mousoulis. “He trained and mentored many people,” Mousoulis told Greek Reporter. “He had an amazing gift. He always spoke the truth and did not care for social or political correctness.”
“He was the first to intervene if he saw injustice around him,” said the director. “If a thug attempted to hurt someone considered weak, he would jump in and beat them up with ease. Just like a comic-book hero.”
“However, he was not a bully,” he said. “He could accurately scan someone’s character from the first interaction. He was humble. He would write. He would draw. And he was always reading a new book. He would recite Kazantzakis, Homer, and Plato. He never wanted to become a burden to anyone—not even in his last days when he wasn’t doing so well.”
Mousoulis told Greek Reporter that two years before his death, Miltsakakis went through an eighteen-hour open heart surgery. The doctors estimated that if he survived, he would be paralyzed. A couple of months after his surgery, he was training his students and completely back to his normal life.
“I was always looking forward to training with him,” Mousoulis revealed. “It was truly a surreal experience. In his presence, I always felt in awe. It was like training with a character who jumped out from the pages of a classical novel.
Mousoulis said he looked up to Miltsakakis and loved him like a father figure.