TRIBUTES have poured in for the "Godfather" of mixed martial artsand wrestling Gene Lebell, who died aged 89.
LeBell was famed for his judo, jujitsu and grappling skills, helping popularise it in modern day MMA.
He also worked as a stuntman and professional wrestler, being described as "The Toughest Man Alive" in his autobiography.
Former UFC champion Bas Rutten was among those to pay tribute to Lebell's passing.
Rutten posted: “My deepest condolences to his lovely wife Midge, his kids and all his other family members and friends.
“You will be greatly missed Gene, I love you my friend, till we meet again!”
READ MORE IN SPORT
MMA hunk Jonathan Lipnicki looks unrecognisable from Jerry Maguire child star
Watch MMA star hit KO & force rival to spin 360 before celebrating with Masvidal
Cris Cyborg added: 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."
Referee John McCarthy tweeted: "With the heaviest of hearts I say goodbye to one of my favorite men in the world.
"Judo Gene Lebell passed in his sleep, a warrior in every way to the very end.
Most read in Sport
JONG THE WAY
Chelsea set to complete £67.6m De Jong transfer with Barcelona agreement close
‘I COULD TASTE BLOOD’
Ryan Giggs headbutted me – my lip instantly swelled, ex claims
Gary Neville dragged into Ryan Giggs court case as jury shown messages & emails
Tributes paid to late cricket umpire Rudi Koertzen after car crash
"In 1963 Gene took on Milo Savage in a mixed fight. Gene choked him like he did me & everyone else. RIP Gene, I love ya."
After a career competing in judo, LeBell and his brother Mike ran the National Wrestling Alliance's Los Angeles territory.
He also famously refereed the boxing vs wrestling exhibition between ring icon Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki in Tokyo, Japan.
LeBell opened MMA schools in his later years and according to inaugural UFC champion Royce Gracie, he was asked to fight in the promotion.
He has taught the likes of Chuck Norris, Roddy Piper, and Manny Gamburyan and Ronda Rousey, even cornering her in the UFC.
The martial arts pioneer is said to have worked on over 1,000 films, TV shows and commercials as a stuntman or as an actor.
LeBell has even played himself in the past, and worked alongside Bruce Lee in the Hollywood legend's films.
Source: Read Full Article
The post Gene Lebell dead at 89: Tributes paid to 'Godfather' of MMA and wrestling who was stuntman and 'toughest man alive' | The Sun appeared first on celebritynewsapp.com.