Roots of Fight celebrates martial arts icon "Judo" Gene LeBell with the release of a short film and accompanying t-shirt, on the anniversary of what is considered the first televised Mixed Martial Arts contest in history, when he faced former middleweight boxer Milo Savage in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 2, 1963.
Responding to a challenge by boxer Jim Beck in Rogue magazine, where he called judo "a complete fraud" and offered $1,000 to any judoka that could defeat a boxer, Gene LeBell agreed to face handpicked Milo Savage in the very first Judo vs. Boxing competition.
"That's the guy that stepped in and did MMA before there was ever MMA," said veteran MMA referee "Big" John McCarthy.
In the fourth round of a five-round bout, LeBell used a traditional harai goshi throw to get Savage to the ground, where he proceeded to take the boxer's back and choke him to sleep in front of an upset hometown crowd.
"People started throwing chairs and pillows," said "Judo" Gene. "And in Salt Lake City, that's the way of saying ‘Oh, you put on a great show. We love you.'"
To accompany the event-based shirt which depicts the Judo vs. Boxing match-up, Roots of Fight has released a short film featuring rare footage of LeBell vs. Savage, with commentary from "Judo" Gene protégé' and UFC champion Ronda Rousey, her mother, the first American World Judo Champion Dr. Ann Maria DeMars, former two-division UFC champion BJ Penn, and more.
For more information on Roots of Fight, visit www.rootsoffight.com.