"Gene LeBell, Founding Member of Black Belt"
It is 1953 and World Black Belt Founding Member Gene LeBell, "The Toughest Man Alive," is in training for the 1954 AAU United States National Judo Championships, he is working on his upper body strength for his throws. So what does Gene do to get ready, weight training...no way, too routine. Tons of push-ups and chin-ups, nope not challenging enough.
Never accused of being a conformist, Gene simply did what no other human could, he trained six hours a day for one year, using his own unique and unconventional training methods like the "Tire Toss." Gene lifted motorcycle tires straight up, with his elbows above his shoulders, and then throwing the tires he marched the entire length of a football field until he got to the end zone where he celebrated by tossing the tire over the goal post. Then Gene turned around and went back the other way. Gene's legendary strength and extraordinary dedication led Gene to back-to-back National Judo Heavyweight Championships in 1954 and 1955.
"I've never met anyone like Gene, he is the Incredible Hulk in real life," says Gene's close friend and WorldBlackBelt Founder Bob Wall. Gene was actually once disqualified from a Judo tournament because the officials felt he was using too much strength. Having a hard time finding worthy opponents, Gene even took on a bear, and won.
Being the son of Aileen Eaton, the remarkable woman who controlled the male dominated Los Angeles boxing and wrestling scene as the owner of the landmark Olympic Auditorium, Gene grew up in the company of fighting heroes like Muhammad Ali, Jerry Quarry, Gorgeous George, Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore, just to name a few.
"The Man in the Pink Gi," Gene LeBell is truly an incredibly original Martial Arts renaissance man, and this is reflected in his many aliases. In the 1960s, Gene got into professional wrestling and became known as the infamous "Hangman," where he won fans and championship belts throughout the world. Unfortunately, for Gene he lost one of those belts just 12 seconds after winning it, after he accidentally hit the commissioner in the head while proudly flaunting his belt.
In 1963, Gene participated in the first "Martial Artist vs. Boxer" event when he took on and choked out Milo Savage. Savage was greased head to toe and wearing brass knuckles, but after four action filled rounds Gene finally got a hold of the slippery Savage and applied one of his famous chokeholds. This fight is available on VHS in the Products Section at www.genelebell.com. A few years later, Gene was the third man in the ring of the most famous Martial Artist vs. Boxer battle when he refereed Muhammad Ali's fight with Antonio Inoki.
Naturally, Gene's colorful personality and superb Martial Art skill led him into the entertainment world. Gene has appeared in more than One Thousand movies and television shows. Next time you are going to the movies or television channel surfing at home, don't be surprised if you spot Gene. Whether it's fighting with Bruce Lee on the Green Hornet TV series, or playing Rodney Dangerfield's stunt double in the comedy "The 4th Tenor," Gene makes a lasting impression.
With former star students like Elvis Presley, Chuck Norris, and Bob Wall, Gene's primary love remains teaching and he always packs them in at his popular seminars and at his regular Monday Night Grappling Class at Hayastan MMA Academy, which is located at 7229 Atoll Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605 For more information on Gene's seminar schedule or classes visit www.genelebell.com. or www.gokor.com.
Gene LeBell choking out "The North Korean Fighter Pilot" Steve Kim
A review of "The Godfather of Grappling" by Sifu Larry Hartsell
Gene is one of the greatest individuals, and legendary martial artists I've ever met. In fact I call him my Hero!
I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with Gene at the Black Belt Festival of Martial Arts First Annual Event. That's when Gene said, "Here's your copy Hartsell." Behind that rough voice and tough look, my wife Debra tells me that Gene LeBell is the most kind, honest and wonderful person she knows.
I read Gene's new book release, "The GODFATHER of Grappling." The only authorized copy! In fact I've re-read the book many times, that is if I can release it from my wife Debra's hands! It's difficult at times because she knows all of my finger locks. I was fascinated with Gene's life, and how well designed and written the book is! I also enjoyed viewing the private and rare photographs which take you back in time with Gene LeBell's high energy and fascinating life.
Not to be mentioned or be confused with other titles out there now in many book stores for sale. This is the only authorized autobiography endorsed by Gene LeBell, I assure you this one is.
Don't miss the opportunity to add this collectors edition to your martial arts library.
"When in Doubt...Seek Him Out" by Paul S. Lewis
Being a student of Gene LeBell's is an honor, but also being invited to call him my friend is a gesture beyond my dreams. Gene is every bit as colorful as anyone imagines. However, he is a sober reminder of what true greatness in a person really is.
"...American Becomes Judo Champion..."
I first met "Judo" Gene LeBell at a Bruce Lee convention many years ago. I think it was because I kept up with his lightning-fast wit and humor, that Gene seemed to take an instant liking to me?
I was finally reintroduced to Gene when my instructor, Sifu Larry Hartsell, was invited to conduct a Saturday afternoon training session at Gene Lebell and Gokor Chivichyan's Hayastan Dojo in Hollywood, California.
Soon, I became a member of Hayastan while continuing to train at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts in Marina Del Rey, Ca. At Hayastan Dojo, I focused only on advanced "Integrated" Grappling and Submissions training. These days, you can frequently meet me on Monday nights at the expanded Hayastan in North Hollywood.
"..The Armenian Assassin..."
Gokor Chivichyan is sometimes referred to as Gene's "Heir Apparant", cited as Gene's Number One student prodigy.
Most of us who are lucky enough to be taught by Gokor are always stunned and amazed by his knowledge and abilities! Gokor (405-0) is by far the best N.H.B. Fighter, Judo, Sambo, Submission artists that I've ever seen in action...he's unbelievable!
Hayastan Dojo has contiued to yield some top MMA and U.F.C. fighter's this decade.
Gene and Gokor are sought out by many famous actors, stunt-persons, film companies and industry leaders for their proven contributions in martial arts.
"...Tough Guys Wear Pink..."
Even advancing in age, Gene LeBell is actively on the floor-mats giving direct instruction to his students, often in his trademark pink Gi. He once popped my shoulder slightly out during a demonstration, which I volunteered for, and it was an honor to me! Well, I guess I'm slightly sadistic too!
Gene and Gokor have always been extremely kind to me and have taught me a unique and effective perspective on "Ground-Fighting", which puts me deeply in both their debts.
Having them as my profound inspiration helps me to keep working harder at my beloved craft and to keep a positive outlook and a smile, even though it all can become daunting at certain times.
Believe me, it is rather hard to resist feeling overwhelmingly inspired when you're in the presence of the "Toughest Man Alive" when you think about his many years of devotion and his overall experiences, so why not submit?
"...Gonna Say Ma-Te..."
All kidding aside, I am truly honored to be one of Gene and Gokors students, a member of their great gym, but most of all to be thought of as a trusted friend.