Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis Jr., founder of the popular multi-million dollar MMA clothing line and television show TapouT, was killed on the morning of March 11, 2009, when his Ferrari collided with a Porsche driven by Jeffrey David Kirby of Costa Mesa.
Today, March 11, 2011, marks the two-year anniversary of his tragic and unfortunate death.
Kirby was recently found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the case and was subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison.
TapouT was launched in 1997, with nothing more than a vision and a handful of merchandise — and enough gas in their van to follow fighters across the state of California to promote and sell TapouT clothing.
Now his empire, along with Dan "Punkass" Caldwell and Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz, includes a reality TV show, a line of bottled water, an impressive stable of mixed-martial-arts fighters and of course its massive clothing line, which went from a few thousand dollars in sales back in the late 90’s to over $100 million in 2008.
"Punkass" recently reminisced on his fallen friend to Jonathan Snowden:
"He always knew the right thing to say. When he told you things were going to be okay, that we'd make something happen, it was settling. You believed things really were going to be okay. He read a lot and he was able to spit a lot of knowledge. I remember being worked up about something one day and he asked me 'Dan, can you do anything to change it?' And I said 'Not really.' And he asked "Then why worry about it? Your wasting a lot of energy and that's ineffective.' Little pieces of wisdom like that. He was a natural born leader. We would look to him for answers and he could deliver. He was just very inspiring. He was my best friend for 20 years and the most inspiring person I've ever been around."
The mixed martial arts world truly lost a pioneer on that fateful day, but while he is gone, he will certainly never be forgotten.