Dango Nguyen, who wrestled as Dango Wynn and Gemini, died on Saturday from cancer. He was 48. But his time in wrestling was only one of his careers, which also included firefighting and, most recently, acting and stunt work.
Easily, his most well-known role was on AMC’s The Walking Dead, where he had a recurring role in the Woodbury Guard for most of third season, serving the lead villain, The Governor. Merle Dixon and a mob of walkers did him in.
Other roles included portraying a Daywalker on The Originals, as well as The Red Road, Banshee and the History Channel’s docudrama Search of the Seven, Roanoke II.
He was often credited as Dango Nu Yen.
As well, the 5-foot-9 Nguyen worked as a stunt performer in films such as Mile 22 (2018) and Omega Unit: The Last Option (2018). He also dabbled in stand-up comedy in and around his home in Georgia.
Nguyen started as a pro wrestler out of high school, in the early 1990s, training in Michigan alongside childhood friend Rob Szatkowski, who would go on to become Rob Van Dam, and Terry Brunk, better known as Sabu.
One of Nguyen’s first breaks in pro wrestling came in Bill Behrens’ promotion.
“Dango started working for me in NWA Georgia when I was running the Georgia Belle flea market in Loganville and was on most shows and then when we started Wild Side he performed there has both Dango and with face paint as Gemini,” recalled Behrens to SLAM! Wrestling. “Various injuries always seem to cause minor setbacks including one time when he tried out for ECW but he always maintained a positive spirit as well, as reflected by his spirit during his fight with cancer.”
Rob Van Dam tweeted out a memory: “In high school Dango and I felt Achilles’ choice of a hero’s fate was best-exciting life, but short. Later, w/the love of family & friends, I’m sure he’d of reconsidered the option, but he lived an amazing life and rescued many people before he passed yesterday. RIP Dango Nguyen”
Nguyen’s passing was made public on August 10, by the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Facebook account. “It is with tremendous sadness that we mourn the loss of one of our former firefighters. Dango Nguyen passed away early this morning after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Dango was a member of our department for almost 20 years,” the post reads. “Dango was a sergeant with our department when he left to pursue a career in the entertainment industry and other interests. But, once you’re a firefighter, you’re always part of our family. And Dango was a very well known member of our family.”
Also public was his fight with cancer, as detailed this year by his wife, Michelle Ripley Nguyen, in a GoFundMe page.
“Dango Nguyen is a husband, a father, a friend, a community servant, an actor, a stunt man, and a personal trainer. Most of all, he is a good man. Where most of us waiver back and forth with our health, Dango has always maintained a healthy lifestyle,” begins the page. “In December, after a couple of months of unusual symptoms, we discovered that he has stage 3 cancer of the urethra. The only treatment offered to us in the US, he would be lucky to survive and, if he did, would leave him sick and handicapped. We decided to take a naturopathic approach only offered in other countries. These treatments cure cancer and leave a person stronger and healthier.”
From there, Ripley Nguyen detailed her husband’s health, including more traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. The couple also sold “Dango Strong” t-shirts and hoodies.
In a post on Facebook from December 2018, Nguyen expressed great appreciation for his wife,. “Never forget who got you where you are. We never achieve anything without the support of our loved ones. My wife is my greatest champion and most ferocious ‘go get your ass moving and get it done!’ cheerleader.” They were married in June 2017.
Funeral arrangements are not known at this time.