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Gene LeBell

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Martial Artist

The Resume

    (October 9, 1932-August 9, 2022)
    Born in Los Angeles, California
    Birth name was Ivan Gene LeBell
    Martial artist, wrestler, and stuntman
    10th degree red belt in judo
    9th degree black belt in jujutsu
    Two-time winner of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national judo championship (1954-55)
    With his brother Mike, ran NWA Hollywood Wrestling (1968-82)

Why he might be annoying:

    When his brother Mike was six and confined to a wheelchair by diphtheria, he wheeled Mike into the middle of a busy street and left him there.
    He wrestled in a black mask as 'The Hangman.'
    He was allegedly NWA champion for about twelve seconds: while celebrating his victory over Pat O'Connor, he accidentally hit the commissioner in the face with the championship belt, opening up a gash, and was immediately stripped of the title (1960).
    A pink judo gi became his trademark thanks to a laundry accident (a pair of red shorts left in with the whites).
    He noted about wearing pink, 'When people teased me about it, it was a good excuse to get them on the mat and stretch their bodies a bit.'
    He was the referee for the farcical Muhammad Ali-Antonio Inoki boxer vs wrestler match (June 26, 1976).
    He was convicted of being an accessory to the 1976 murder of private investigator Robert Duke Hall, having driven the killer, pornographer Jack Ginsbergs, to and from the site of the murder.
    While working as a stunt coordinator for 'Out for Justice' (1991), he got into a fight with Stephen Seagal, although the details vary widely depending on who tells the story.

Why he might not be annoying:

    He received his first wrestling lessons at age seven from Ed 'Strangler' Lewis.
    He defeated Milo Savage in a martial artist vs boxer match (December 2, 1963).
    He appeared in so many films and TV series that at his peak he was earning over $100,000 annually from residuals.
    While working as a stuntman on The Green Hornet, he befriended Bruce Lee. (Having been previously delegated by his fellow stuntmen to explain to Lee that he did not need to actually beat up his opponents in the fight scenes for them to look realistic on the screen.)
    He served as a mentor to martial artists ranging from Chuck Norris to Rhoda Rousey.
    He was nicknamed 'the toughest man alive.'
    His accessory to murder conviction was overturned on appeal.
    He was one of the inspirations for the character Cliff Booth (portrayed by Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'

Credit: C. Fishel


Featured in the following Annoying Collections:

Year In Review:

    For 2021, as of last week, Out of 25 Votes: 40.0% Annoying