Gene LeBell, the legendary “Judo” icon, has passed away at 89.
It’s no secret that LeBell introduced judo to MMA. During Ronda Rousey’s UFC career, he was her mentor.
Ex-UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and other prominent mixed martial arts (MMA) names have reacted to the recent passing of judo legend Gene LeBell.
Ronda Rousey & MMA/Pro Wrestling Community React To Passing Of Gene LeBell
After news broke of LeBell’s passing, several big names took to social media to pay homage to the judo and professional wrestling legend.
Here are some of there words:
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
🙏🏽 Judo Gene Lebell impacted so many lives through his kind, caring, and loving soul. It is through those memories his legacy will become legendary and forever remembered. ❤️ RIP and prayers to all who loved him pic.twitter.com/uEJaJG5e2k
— Cyborg fights Sunday (@criscyborg) 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
RIP Gene Lebell. I’m not sure his contributions to combat sports can be overstated enough. A man’s man, a gentleman and an absolute legend. I enjoyed the times I got to chat and laugh with him over the years. Godspeed sir.
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) August 10, 2022
LeBell was a hugely influential name in both the combat sports and professional wrestling community. He was a black belt in Judo where he trained in competed in both the United States and Japan.
After making a name for himself in the world of Judo, LeBell tried his hand at professional wrestling. He did this while simultaneously competing in combat sports as well.
He owns a victory over professional boxer Milo Savage in a mixed-rules fight in 1963. He submitted Savage with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round.
In professional wrestling, LeBell made his mark in professional wrestling as a promoted for the famed NWA promotion for 14 years.
LeBell was part of a historic matchup between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki in 1976, serving as the referee of the match.
After making huge strides in MMA and professional wrestling, LeBell also dipped in the Hollywood pool, serving as an actor and stuntman.
He worked with the likes of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, becoming close friends with Lee on the set of the film The Green Hornet.
LeBell never left his roots, however, as he trained various big names in both MMA and professional wrestling. His list of students include WWE Hall Of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, UFC Hall Of Famer Ronda Rousey, and UFC veterans Karo Parisyan and Manny Gamburyan.
He even served as a judge in MMA until 2018 when he decided to walk away from the position.