Born in Derbyshire, England, he began practicing kung fu, kickboxing and karate recreationally in his youth while working at local market stalls. An avid footballer and diver, he was selected by Britain's national diving team to compete in the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Shortly after, he was asked to model for French Connection, Tommy Hilfiger, and Levis in various advertising campaigns. Statham's past professional history working in market stalls inspired his casting in the Guy Ritchie crime films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000).
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