Another sudden death, this time “Judo” Gene LeBell, has devastated the combat sports community once again.
Days after the tragic passing of Brazilian BJJ star Leandro Lo, LeBell reportedly passed away earlier today. He was 89 years old.
Gene LeBell explains the LeBell Grip (3 finger grip), 1987. He tortures Mando Guerrero in the process. pic.twitter.com/hOkadorDVv
— Catch Wrestling U (@CatchWrestling) August 10, 2022
LeBell is known as a martial artist who trained with top notch athletes from many disciplines such as boxing’s Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, and martial arts notables such as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.
He also worked in the movie and entertainment industry as a stuntman and often secured work for many martial artists and professional wrestlers on the set.
Gene LeBell pulling out the gat on Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 😂
RIP Gene LeBell pic.twitter.com/PcsLgfc8KJ
— HAWK PUTUH pronouns (Pen/is) (@RckyRckk) August 10, 2022
Moments of controversy were also common throughout LeBell’s career, including being charged with an accessory to murder in the 1976 death of private investigator Robert Duke Hall. The charge was later overturned by the California Courts of Appeal.
R.I.P. Judo Gene LeBell, who refused to confirm or deny that he made Steven Seagal shit himself on the set of Out For Justice, which he absolutely, 100% did. pic.twitter.com/m0Bzfu2b19
— William Friedkin Truths (@LazlosGhost) August 10, 2022
LeBell befriended women’s martial artist AnnaMarie De Mars, who is the mother of UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey. After supporting Rousey by appearing in her corner during her fights, LeBell also served as an MMA judge.
The combat sports community took to social media to voice their respect for LeBell.
RIP "Judo" Gene LeBell (1932–2022). In both sports and popular culture, martial arts wouldn't be what it is today without him. He popularised grappling in MMA, worked with Bruce, Chuck, Ronda et al, did countless films & shows, authored books, taught well into his 80s. Icon 👑 pic.twitter.com/evQpFTPEdx
— Mike Fury (@TheMikeFury) August 10, 2022
Since making this post, Gene Lebell, accomplished martial artist, coach, and stuntman, pioneer of MMA and massive personality passed away at the age of 89. Let us remember him as he lived: making bloviating monsters poo themselves in public. https://t.co/rZLzDgiNFv
— A. Bartaway🇺🇦❤️✊✌️ (@Bartaway) August 10, 2022
🙏RIP🙏 Judo Gene Lebell
This one hurts. The first time I met him was at a fan expo, when I was kid. STARTED TO LEARN REAL WRESTLING Then as a mma judge at one of my fights. Rest in peace.
— Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) August 10, 2022
With the heaviest of hearts I say goodbye to one of my favorite men in the world. Judo Gene Lebell passed in his sleep, a warrior in every way to the very end. In 1963 Gene took on Milo Savage in a mixed fight. Gene choked him like he did me & everyone else. RIP Gene, I love ya pic.twitter.com/thoEZgHA0k
— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) August 10, 2022
My unfailing reminder that I am ugly and nobody likes me.
RIP to the world's toughest man, Judo Gene Lebell.
I'm going to miss the hell out of you. pic.twitter.com/1f3jlB0s55
— Paul Lazenby (@MaulerMMA) August 10, 2022
AEW joins the wrestling world in mourning the passing of “Judo” Gene Lebell. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his fans. pic.twitter.com/epDTGpY16q
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 10, 2022
Gene LeBell remained a towering figure in the history and expansion of mixed martial arts and sports entertainment. A teacher to many of the sport’s greats, his influence is felt throughout @WWE to this day. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this time.
— Triple H (@TripleH) August 10, 2022
WWE is saddened to learn that Gene LeBell has passed away at the age of 89.
WWE extends its condolences to LeBell's family, friends and countless fans. https://t.co/Kw9xGEhb2V
— WWE (@WWE) August 10, 2022
THE GENE LEBELL THE REALEST TOUGHEST MAN ON THE EARTH. WE SHOOT TOGETHER HE WAS EXCELLENT I LOVE HIM I MISS HIM FOREVER pic.twitter.com/JK27UBOclA
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) August 10, 2022
Everyone here at the CAC is saddened to hear the legendary "Judo" Gene LeBell has passed away at the age of 89. A long time supporter & lifetime member of the CAC. He was an actor, pro wrestler, martial artist, stuntman and more. Our sincerest condolences to his family & friends pic.twitter.com/cRZsD8PCWn
— CauliflowerAlleyClub (@CACReunion) August 10, 2022
Rest in peace, Judo Gene LeBell. Here's my tribute at @SlamWrestling. He was a truly unique individual, scary tough but funny — "His personality was disarming with the threat of being dis-armed" — #GeneLebell #toughestever: https://t.co/f8MG8TBVun pic.twitter.com/et6om0ZDuj
— Greg Oliver (@gregmep) August 10, 2022
RIP Gene LeBell pic.twitter.com/GIer6JlYxp
— Danny (@dajosc11) August 10, 2022
So sad to hear about the passing of Gene LeBell. What a larger than life legend. It was such an honor to see him at the Rousey fights over the years. God bless, Judo Gene.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 10, 2022
RIP Gene LeBell. I wrote about Gene in my book SHOOTERS, a man so tough he wore a pink judogi just hoping someone would give him some crap.
Also, his instructional taught the truly deadly holds like the nose rip.
What a character he was. pic.twitter.com/sJT3mFn3Mt
— TheRealSnowden (@JESnowden) August 10, 2022
Godspeed, “Judo” Gene LeBell. Grateful for your innumerable contributions and for the equally innumerable laughs over the years. None of us are as ugly as you told us… every time you saw us! Rest well, sir. 🙏
— Adam Pearce (@ScrapDaddyAP) August 10, 2022