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Friday, October 9, 2015

"The Godfather of Grappling" Turns 83

Above, George Reeves, Noel Neill and Gene LeBell on tour in 1957.

"The Godfather of Grappling" Gene LeBell is celebrating his 83rd birthday today.

I met Gene last year at the Superman Celebration luncheon at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Studio City and had a great time listening to his stories of his career and his friendship with George Reeves while dining with him.

Above, Gene LeBell and Armand at the Superman Celebration luncheon last year.

I told him that my dad met Reeves at a gym where Reeves was practicing judo and my dad boxed. I told him I've been trying to pinpoint the gym where the meeting occurred. He remembers Reeves frequented a gym on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

According to Jim Nolt:
October 9, 1932: Gene LeBell was born in Los Angeles, CA. Gene was a close friend of George Reeves and Bruce Lee. Known as "the Godfather of Grappling" and also as "the toughest man alive," he has taught grappling skills to many well-known wrestlers and martial artists.
Happy Birthday, Gene!

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