American martial artist, stunt performer, actor, and former professional wrestler, Gene LeBell, has passed away at the age of 89.
LeBell, who is Nicknamed “the Godfather of Grappling” is widely credited with popularizing grappling in professional fighting circles, serving as a precursor to modern mixed martial arts.
Born on October 9, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, United States, LeBell worked on over 1,000 films and TV shows and authored 12 books.
The United States Ju-Jitsu Federation (USJJF) promoted him to 9th Dan in jujitsu and taihojutsu in the year 2000.
The World Martial Arts Masters Association promoted LeBell to 10th Degree on August 7, 2004, and he was promoted to 9th Dan in Traditional Judo by the USJJF in February 2005.
LeBell served as an inspiration for the character of Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
LeBell passed away on August 9, 2022, at the age of 89.
Gene LeBell Children: David LeBell, Monica LeBell Pandis, Danny Martindale
Gene LeBell is survived by three children; David LeBell, Monica LeBell Pandis, and Danny Martindale.
David LeBell is the son of the late Gene LeBell. He is an actor known for his work on RoboCop 2 (1990), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), and Commando (1985).
While he was in college, David won the Los Angeles City Judo Championship competing for Welcome Mat Judo and has appeared in many Martial Arts publications such as Black Belt Magazine and Inside Kung Fu.
Monica LeBell Pandis
Monica LeBell Pandis is the daughter of the late Gene LeBell. She is an insurance investor. David LeBell and Danny Martindale are her siblings.
Danny Martindale is the son of the late Gene LeBell. David LeBell and Monica LeBell Pandis are his siblings.