“Judo” Gene LeBell, a legendary name in the martial arts world but also a well-known stunt man and pro wrestling personality, passed away on 8/9.
He was 89 at the time of his death.
LeBell, whose behind-the-scenes legendary stories inspired the character of Cliff Booth, the character played by Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” He was the son of Aileen Eaton, a Hall of Fame boxing promoter who headed the Hollywood Boxing & Wrestling Club. She took over the promtion after the death of her husband and Gene’s stepfather Cal Eaton in 1966.
His older brother, Mike LeBell, was the promoter of the Southern California territory from 1966 officially, although started working there years earlier than that, until he closed it in 1982 after business had gotten so bad.
Gene LeBell was around the pro wrestling scene from 1955, when he debuted doing judo matches a few months after winning his second national championship in the sport. He remained affiliated with pro wrestling until the promotion closed down.