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Charlie Williams, the “Korean Dragon.” ~ Patrick Sampey {Interview}

Twenty-four hours in a day, and 18 of them Charlie Williams is pushing hard all day long—he sleeps perhaps five to six hours a night.

Williams, born in Seoul , Korea, 37 years old, is a straight shooter; he has a work ethic unlike any I’ve seen, and is very easy to interview. The conversation rolls along as easy as a leaf meandering down a calm, cool Florida river. This seems to fit him well, being that he now lives in Orlando, and has since the age of 21.

The “Korean Dragon,” now the Florida Dragon, was told when he was 12 that he could be a champion by a young, 15-year-old Max Eberle—who Williams says is his oldest friend in the pool world. Eberle won the Billiard Congress of America’s National Junior Championship in 1991 when he was 18, is a excellent pro pool player as well, and is known as “Mad Max” by other pros.

Many know Williams as a championship pool player, former five time Mosconi Cup player (winning four times out of five, no less) and team captain from 2011, but he informs me that he hasn’t even picked up a cue in about a month. Wow! This is a shock to me. These days, he is first a promoter of the game, second a coach of the game, and third a player; Dragon Promotions, where he is the Executive Producer, is uplifting the game by promoting professional billiards events throughout the world at a time when the game is struggling.

“Dragon Promotions team of world class producers has successfully created and produced over 200 international events worldwide. In a span of nearly 14 years, Dragon Promotions has produced over 1000 hours of original television programming airing on networks in USA, China, Philippines, Korea, Canada, the Middle East, all of Asia, and Europe. DP has reached literally hundreds of millions of viewers.” 

Promoter, coach, and then player—that’s how he sees his role in the billiards world currently. This is how he supports pool.

These days billiards in the US is not nearly as popular as it used to be, and we discuss what may be needed to return the game we love back to prominence. He tells me how we have 9-ball, 10-ball, One Pocket, Straight Pool, etc. He contrasts that against Snooker in Europe and how they have a standard game where all the fans know the rules, know the game and that’s what they play. Here, he continues, pool is disjointed, having different formats, rules, games, etc., where the fans can hardly keep up with, or know exactly what’s going on for any given tournament. He indicates that perhaps 8-ball, a game most amateurs know and play, could be that standard, although he says 9 ball or 10 ball could also be. He contends 10-ball is 10-20 percent more difficult than 9, and this seems to be one of the games for which he has a great respect.

Williams also speaks of 14.1 continuous or Straight Pool, which he has supported and promoted for the past 10 years now, with the World 14.1 Championships through Dragon Promotions, which he’s run for 14 years. He contends that 14.1 may not be the game to revive pool, as it doesn’t have as much excitement for the fans to enjoy as the likes of 9 ball, 10 ball and 8 ball—where difficult skill shots come into play more often.

He informs me that it’s harder for the fans to get excited about 14.1 because when played at the pro level, it’s a game of a series of easy shots, where cue control is the key, so rarely do any sensational shots, like bank shots or jump shots, come up, and he feels the fans need this type of excitement to enjoy watching matches in the game of pocket billiards.

Williams definitely seems to have a feel for the pulse and heartbeat of the fans.

Also, he’s not just a coach, he’s a coach of champions. He informed me that he’s coached top billiard professionals including Allison FisherYu Ram Cha, Shanelle Loraine, Rodney Morris, Eunji Erica Park and Thorsten Hohmann. Williams was there for history in the making on Sunday, July 30, 2006 when Hohmann won pool’s largest purse ever of $350,000; Williams was Hohmann’s coach and corner man before and during the event.

“I wasn’t nervous at all, the entire match,” Hohmann reported. “I felt really confident, I had a good night’s sleep, slept eight hours, and woke up still full of confidence because of yesterday. I just enjoyed the match. I could’ve won even higher—I wasn’t nervous, I just took my eyes off the ball. Charlie was there for me and said just do it, you’ve done it so many times this week, you can do it again. I had my chance, on that last run-out, my mom could’ve run out that last rack, it was so easy, so I’m thankful, and maybe it was my destiny.” – Pro9 – Europe’s No.1 Pool Player Resource

Williams is an accomplished champion in his own right. His high run in 14.1 is 141. He has strung together 11 racks of 9 ball, which is incredible. He has run six racks against players in competition.

Thirteen years ago in 2001, Williams was then a young 24-year-old pro ranked as one of the top professionals in the world; from his Facebook page he recounts the horrific events on September 11th. He was rooming with Mika Immonen and Helen Chang at the US Open 9-ball event in Virginia. They were all sound asleep in their hotel room, which was pitch black when the call came to inform them of the horrible terrorist attacks—an event that has forever altered the history of our nation. They turned on the TV and saw the first tower engulfed in flames, only to witness the second plane crash into the other tower moments later. “We all watched stupefied and in horror,” he recalls of the terrible calamity inked into the collective consciousness of the American people, adding, “It feels surreal that we saw that happen.”

Barry Behrman, Promoter of the US Open had announced that the $72,000 guaranteed added prize fund for the event would be cut in half after the fact. Behrman had then informed the players that the money wouldn’t be available because it was based on gate sales and that the gate was way down as a result of the September 11th attacks. Williams, incensed that after all the years of Behrman running the event, the money that was touted as “guaranteed” was never really guaranteed at all, boycotted the event for the next two years. “I think the ripple effects of this fact has had repercussions in the sport even till today with not only that event, but with other would-be promoters. That fact led me to skip the tournament for the next two years, though it was one of favorites…” He would go on to win a total of $84,221 in other events, not including endorsements, over those two years.

Anyone interested in being coached by Williams can contact him at:

Patrick Sampey, aka Cellophane Man, is a US Army veteran, billiards enthusiast, from Gainesville, Florida and is 42 years old. He is Air Assault qualified, COMPTIA A+ Certified Repair Technician and an Electronics Technician. Photo: YouTube Video Clip Editor: Alicia “Woz” Wozniak

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