Influential combat sport icon “Judo” Gene LeBell has died at 89.
LeBell, whom many credit for bringing judo into the MMA space, served as a mentor to former UFC champion Ronda Rousey throughout her MMA run, but his roots run much deeper.
In addition to spending extensive time in the world of acting and professional wrestling, LeBell also trained with legendary figures such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.
Reports of LeBell’s death surfaced on social media from close family friends early Wednesday.
Although his notoriety was partially racked out by his work as a trainer and motivator, LeBell had a decorated run as a top-tier amateur judoka in the 1950s.
LeBell even has an officially recorded MMA fight. He defeated boxer Milo Savage in a mixed-rules contest in December 1963 in what some argue to be the first legitimate MMA fight. He would later go on to serve as an MMA judge until 2018, as well.
The loss of LeBell has a ripple effect through the fight world, and many athletes and personalities shared their condolences on social media.
Heather Jo Clark
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
Source : MMAJunkie