Tributes pour in following death of legendary martial artist and fighter Gene LeBell

Tributes pour following death of legendary martial artist and fighter Gene LeBell Credit: Twitter @MaulerMMA

Gene LeBell, an American martial artist and fighter has died aged 89, as reported on Wednesday, August 10.

Born in 1932, Gene LeBell, was an iconic American martial artist and fighter, best known for being credited as making grappling a huge part of combat sports.

LeBell worked in the fields of judo, mixed martial arts, professional wrestling and even as a Hollywood stuntman.

He was the inspiration between Brad Pitt’s character “Cliff Booth” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.”

LeBell also trained legends such as Ronda Rousey, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Chuck and Norris.

In addition LeBell starred in over 1,000 movies and penned 12 books.

Nicknamed “The Godfather of Grappling” he also allegedly chocked out Steven Seagal while filming a movie.

Bas Rutten, a former UFC champion paid tribute to Lebell on Facebook writing:

“The great Gene LeBell, toughest man I know, has passed away and left us at the age of 89.”

“We all heard the crazy stories, about Seagal, and that he was the first guy to fight MMA in a match against the Boxer Milo Savage in 1963 (I wasn’t even born), still pulling wheelies on his motor cycle when he was like 84 years old and if you go online, you find thousand more stories.”

“I have always loved Gene, every single person I know loves Gene, and I am proud to say that we always had fun when we met, always cracking jokes.”

Tributes have also poured in on Twitter following the announcement of the death of Gene LeBell:



The news of the death of Gene LeBell follows the death of Japanese voice actor Hiroshi Otake who died following acute heart failure on August 1, aged 90, as reported on Tuesday, August 9.

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Written by

Joshua Manning

Originally from the UK, Joshua is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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