My LA to Z: Michael Jai White

The actor and accomplished martial artist who has portrayed boxer Mike Tyson has six children and seven black belts and splits his time between Sherman Oaks and Santa Clarita


Photograph by Quantrell Colbert

Michael Jai White is an actor and an accomplished martial artist who recently starred in The Dark Knight and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? Last year he wrote, directed, and starred in Black Dynamite

1 24hrfitness

24 Hour Fitness

I’m at the Magic Johnson 24 Hour Fitness at the Sherman Oaks Gallery all the time. It’s like my lifestyle is right there. I can walk from home but after a really rigorous workout I might be a little bit too spent to walk back. The music is great. It’s one of the only gyms where I don’t need my iPod, the music is so good. Magic was very much responsible for that.

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The Burbank YMCA

Ever since I was really young I was involved in the YMCA, and by the time I was fifteen I was teaching. I have been involved with the Burbank YMCA for years and have taught martial arts there.

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3 zancouchicken

Zankou Chicken

I’ve turned more people on to Zankou Chicken and made Zankou crackheads out of those people! It’s such a fast, inexpensive meal that tastes so good. They have a garlic sauce that’s just insane. I get chicken tarna marinated in 30 different seasonings, and it’s one of these things that tastes like nothing else. I walk friends through the process. I first have them taste the shawerma and then the marinated chicken. You can’t put your finger on that spice. It just doesn’t exist outside of that restaurant.

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4 gymnasticsunlimited

Gymnastics Unlimited

All the kids are in sports, even the 15-month-old. I’m already teaching her karate. The 11-year-old is in gymnastics, track, and tennis. Gymnastics Unlimited is where the kids go. It takes kids from one-and-a-half to Olympic hopefuls. It’s fully equipped and the instructors are major gymnasts.

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5 daichan



I love Japanese food, and one of my top restaurants is Daichan. It’s the best food ever. It feels very weird giving out your picture to put up on the wall and I don’t do it much, but that is one of the only places that has my picture and it belongs there.  Sometimes I’ll order my favorite and the owner will just say “no” and cook me something else. I trust his judgment.


6 victory

Victory Kyokushin

We’re opening up a karate school in Burbank. I’ll be teaching from time to time on Victory Boulevard. It will be open the first of May, and it’s called Victory Kyokushin. That’s the most dominant style of marital arts in the world.

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7 purans


My wife and I love Puran’s. It’s very healthy and very tasty, and it is the farthest place from our house but whenever we get close to that place we have to go to it. We get the grilled seafood salad—it’s just the best.  I’ve been eating at that place for 10 years, and it’s never been bad.

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8 sanmostairs

Santa Monica Stairs

I like to go work out by the beach. I like the Santa Monica stairs on 4th street right off of San Vicente Blvd. It’s kind of a cult thing, and it gets in your system.

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9 votresant

A Votre Sante

A Votre Sante is my very favorite breakfast place. I get the Trainer’s Feast there, the blue corn banana pancakes and… I just made myself hungry. It’s the best tasting healthy food. It’s known as a vegetarian restaurant, and the vegetarian dishes are tremendous. I’ve had a 15-year love affair with that place.

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10 sportchalet

Sport Chalet

I get workout clothes at Sport Chalet in Santa Clarita. It’s got the biggest selection, so there’s more of an opportunity to find what I want. I’m usually just recycling sports gear. Since I work out a lot, fabrics and garments wear out quite a bit. I’ll sweat through ten outfits a week.

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11 park

North Hollywood Park

I like to work out outdoors more than anything, and I like Tujunga Park in North Hollywood. There’s something about the energy at that park that really charges me up. There’s a lot of people that work out there and quite a few martial artists, as well. They have a nice amount of trees, and it just feels good.

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12 lazoo2

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

All the kids and especially the baby love the L.A. Zoo. We’re pointing out animals in books, and she gets to see them live and in the flesh. She really likes monkeys, even in the storybooks, so when she saw live monkeys she really got a kick out of them and we got a kick out of watching her.

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13 clayoven

Clay Oven

My favorite Indian restaurant is Clay Oven. The food is tremendous, and plus they have a lunch buffet. I can go in there, and I’m done in 20 minutes. If we’re gonna have lunch that’s where we go. The chicken tikka masala and the saag paneer and aloo gobi. Don’t ask me to spell that.

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Images courtesy of (in order): (1) Flickr/jerryonlife, (2) Flickr/thivierr, (3), (4), (6), (8) Flickr/NoiseCollusion, (9), (10) Flickr/(Bill and Mavis) – B&M Photography, (11), (12), (13) Flickr/Indy Kethdy

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