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Thread: "Judo" Gene Lebell Passes Away At Age 89

  1. #1
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    Exclamation "Judo" Gene Lebell Passes Away At Age 89

    Legendary catch wrestler and judoka Gene Lebell passed away on August 9, 2022 at the age of 89.
    According to Black Belt Magazine:

    "Judo" Gene LeBell, best known for his catch wrestling technique that later became an influence in both pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, has passed away at 89 years old.
    LeBell started catch wrestling at the age of 7, training under Ed “Strangler” Lewis and later trained in judo. He was also trained by the likes of Karl Gotch and Lou Thesz. In 1963, he accepted a challenge to fight boxer Milo Savage in an early mixed martial arts bout that saw LeBell score the win with a rear naked choke.
    In pro wrestling, he ran NWA's Los Angeles territory, NWA Hollywood Wrestling, from 1968 through 1982. He also served as the referee for the Muhammad Ali/Antonio Inoki match that took place in 1976. He wrestled his final pro wrestling match in 1981, against Peter Maivia in NWA Hollywood Wrestling.
    In recent years, he had accompanied Ronda Rousey to the ring during mixed martial arts matches. He also judged MMA fights through 2018."

    Link to the original announcement and commentary on Black Belt Magazine's Facebook page (scroll to the 8/10/22 post):
    https://www.facebook.com/BlackBeltMagazine/
    Cady Goldfield

  2. #2
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    LeBell was a 2x AAU Judo National Champion (in 54 and 55), and apparently trained at the Kodokan according to Wikipedia. RIP.

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