Did you know that the first officially televised “MMA match” here in the US was not the UFC but a match between Milo Savage, a boxer, versus the legendary “Judo” Gene LeBell?
Over 50 years ago?!?
The bout took place on December 2nd, 1963 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The fight was arranged by Mr. Ed Parker (the founder of American Kenpo Karate) after Jim Beck issued a challenge in Rogue magazine calling out martial artists and offering $1000 to any martial artist who could beat a boxer.
This is what Jim Beck wrote:
“Judo bums hear me one and all! It is one thing to fracture pine boards, bricks and assorted inanimate objects, but quite another to climb into a rign with a trained and less cooperative target.
My money is ready. Where are the takers?”
Gene LeBell as many of you know is a two time national judo champion and a wrestler who later became even more famous for teaching legends such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and more recently Ronda Rousey. Gene has also been a numerous movies and TV shows, including Rocky, Raging Bull, Rush Hour and also starred with Bruce Lee in an episode of “Longstreet” (a short lived TV series in the 60s).
Gene LeBell also refereed the infamous “MMA match” between Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer, and Antonio Enoki (a Japanese wrestler) which took place Tokyo on June 26, 1976 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.
Milo Savage was a journeyman middleweight boxer (who was 39-years old at the time) who at one point was the #5 ranked Light Heavyweight boxer who took up the challenge to fight LeBell.
The fight went 4 rounds and people were appalled when Judo Gene threw Milo down and choked him out.
While the video above is just a short clip with no sound, it’s still interesting to watch.
It’s MMA history…
Filed in: MMA