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Remembering Gene LeBell

Ivan “Judo” Gene LeBell was an American judoka, stunt performer, actor, and professional wrestler. Nicknamed "The Godfather of Grappling", he popularized grappling in professional fighting circles, serving as a precursor to modern mixed martial arts.

He worked on over 1,000 films and TV shows and authored 12 books.

In 2000, the United States Ju-Jitsu Federation promoted LeBell to 9th dan in jujitsu and taihojutsu.

On August 7, 2004, the World Martial Arts Masters Association promoted him to 10th degree.

In February 2005, the USJJF made him 9th dan in judo.

LeBell has been reported as the inspiration for the character of Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, Tarantino disputes this claim.

On August 9, 2022, LeBell died in his sleep.


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