Gene LeBell or Ivan Gene LeBell is a legendary martial artist, professional wrestler, stunt performer and instructor born on October 9, 1932 in Los Angeles, California. He has worked in over 1,000 television shows and films and has authored several books. In 2000, LeBell was given his 9th Dan in taihojutsu and jujitsu by the Ju-Jitsu Federation. By 2004, he was promoted to 10th degree. In 2005, he was also promoted to 9th Dan in Judo by the USJJF.
The legend started training in martial arts at a very young age. He was influenced by his mother who was back then a promoter of professional wrestling and boxing. At the age of 7, he was already taking up lessons in catch wrestling and after 3 years moved to judo. After he got his black belt, he went to Japan and became an outstanding student at the Kodokan School.
The 83-year old had many accomplishments in martial arts. He became a national judo champion in 1954 and 1955 and received several awards including the Iron Mike Mazurki Award in 1995. He was also a one-time NWA Central States Heavyweight champion, a one-time NWA Americas Tag Team Champion and a one-time NWA “Beat the Champ” Television Champion. In addition to that, he was also inducted in the NWA Hall of Fame in 2011 and won the Frank Gotch Award in 2005.
LeBell’s styles of fighting during his active years in martial arts include boxing, Jujutsu, Judo and catch wrestling. As a teacher, he had many students like Neil Melanson, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. Ronda Rousey and Ed Parker were also some of his notable students.