It’s about time for a tribute to The Godfather Of Grappling, “Judo” Gene Lebell!
In case of an emergency, people normally call ‘911′. Right?!
Well, when seasoned martial arts and wrestling greats such as Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, Ken Shamrock, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, The Rock, Gokor “Armenian Assassin” Chivichyan and many many more needed grappling advice and training, guess who they called?
You guessed right, “Judo” Gene Lebell.
In 1954, as a twenty-two year old judoka, Master Gene accomplished something at the National Judo Championships in Japan nobody had done before:
He won the Heavyweight Title as the first non-Japanese weighing only 165 lbs.!
Master Gene repeated this extraordinary acomplishment the next year.
All while competing in a pink judo gi. So what’s with funky colored gi?
I’m glad you asked.
When Master Gene was in Japan the first time, the laundry service cleaning his gi messed up big time by somehow throwing in red clothing and so turning his white gi into the now infamous pink.
Master Gene had no choice but to compete in pink. The Japanese were outraged, because they considered it disrespectful. Traditions can be very strong.
Master Gene prevailed and the pink gi has been his trademark ever since.
So, when looking around a dojo you knew that dangerous guy was always the one wearing pink.
For years he continued to successfully compete in the Judo and Pro-Wrestling.
His proven skills have helped him in stunt-work in literally hundreds of movies along side with celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Master Gene continues to share his vast knowledge in Los Angeles and at seminars around the country such as the Paradise Warrior Retreat with other martial arts legends.
Master Gene is certainly not your typical 77-year old.
He’s as sharp as a tack and as witty as they come. And he owns the mat.
And what’s absolutely amazing: His sleeper choke keeps on putting people to sleep within seconds.
Nobody does it better!
Or as the famous saying goes, “When in doubt, choke him out.”
Let me know if any of you have met “Judo” Gene Lebell in person.