Just as there was the great Masahiko Kimura (Judo) vs Helio Gracie (GJJ) match up that was watched by millions from around the world, I am left pondering what if two relatively unknown (to casual fans) legends in Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan fought Rickson and Royce in a sanctioned MMA or grappling bout. Who would win?
Although I am no fan of the Gracie clan, the Gracie name is synonymous to world class grappling. A fight/grappling card that features both Royce and Rickson facing off against Gokor and Gene is a dream of mine that I wish had come true.
Now before moving forward, it is rumored by a few in the martial arts community that Rickson declined a fight with Gokor on multiple occasions with reasons still unknown.
Gene LeBell vs. Rickson Gracie
Gokor Chivichyan vs. Royce Gracie
If these MMA/grappling bouts were declared, who would you pick, and why?
For those who do not know the names Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan, and what they’ve accomplish, I will provide a short biography below:
Gokor was born in Soviet Armenia in 1963 and holds a 9th degree black belt in Judo, 6th degree black belt in Jujutsu and a 6th degree black belt in Combat Sambo. During his childhood and early teenage years, Gokor won junior national titles in Judo, Sambo and Wrestling. He left Armenia at the age of 17 and relocated to Los Angeles, and began to train under “Judo” Gene LeBell. Through the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Gokor spent most of his time traveling and competing in Vale Tudo, Bare Knuckle, Judo, Sambo, Submission Wrestling, Grappling, Mixed Martial Arts-like bouts throughout countries such as Mexico, Thailand and Japan, and places within the Soviet Union and Europe. It is said he amassed a record with over 400 victories during this time, losing not once (similar to Rickson’s claim). Notable students that train under Gokor are Karo Parisyan and Manvel Gamburyan.
‘Judo’ Gene LeBell
Gene LeBell was born in 1932 in Los Angeles, and holds a 10th degree black belt (red belt rank) in Judo and a 9th degree black belt in Jujutsu. Along with Judo and Jujutsu, Gene has also trained in Boxing, Catch-Wrestling and Kyokushin Karate. In addition to martial arts, he also dubbed in professional wrestling and stunt work. Gene obtained the nickname ‘Judo’ (along with ‘The Toughest Man Alive’ and ‘The Grandfather of Grappling’) due to his accomplishments in the art of Judo — winning many titles and tournaments. LeBell is recognized as one of the first Mixed Martial Artists (featured, as well, in the first televised MMA bout in the United States). Some of LeBell’s notable students have been Bruce Lee, Roddy Piper, Chuck Norris, Ed Parker, Gokor Chivichyan, Bob Wall, Mando Guerrero and Benny Urquidez.