Charles “Mask” Lewis 1963-2009

“Hopefully, at the end of the day, it would be said that I encouraged people to encourage.  Encouraged you to believe in yourself way past where you believed you could go.  Get you to believe in something that’s way up here, that you don’t really want to touch it, you really don’t want to believe…man, go believe in that, and focus on that thing, and when you do that, that’s when you’ll do something that sets you completely apart from everybody else.  It just takes one idea.  One.  To change the course of your history, your kids history, and influence many a millions of others.  There’s just one, but you’ve got to go up in that one little part that you’re thinking is just so crazy…it only sounds crazy because nobody else is thinking about it.  That’s your special gift; you gotta get up there in that, Whatever it is.

—Charles “Mask” Lewis, June 23, 1963 - March 11, 2009

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More Details Emerge Regarding Lewis’ Death

Jeffrey D. Kirby of Costa Mesa, California has been charged with vehicular manslaughter after his car collided with that of Tapout clothing company founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr., early Wednesday morning and sent him into a cement pole, killing him instantly.

From Sherdog.com:

Kirby, 51, of Costa Mesa, Calif., has been charged with “one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury to multiple victims,” according to a press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Kirby, who has a prior 2002 conviction for driving under the influence, faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months if convicted. Lewis’ red Ferrari and Kirby’s white Porsche were observed traveling alongside one another in the same direction on the three-lane Jamboree Road around 1 a.m. PST on Wednesday morning, according to a Newport Beach police officer who was traveling in the opposite direction and witnessed the crash.

“Kirby is accused of speeding alongside a 2004 Ferrari…,” read the release, “… [and] is accused of losing control of his car due to his unsafe speed and crashing into Lewis’ vehicle,” which caused Lewis to lose control of his vehicle and collide with a cement pole. The Newport Beach Police Dept. has not depicted the accident as a “drag race.”

Those interested in leaving a tribute message in honor of Mask can do so at Tapout’s official website. A tribute phone line has also been set up in his memory. If you have a story to share or thoughts on Lewis, you can leave them at 1-888-6-TAPOUT. The line will stay open until late Sunday evening. The Tapout radio show will be airing the messages during shows in the near future and they will also be archived on the official memorial website that Tapout is creating.

Tapout Founder Charles Lewis Killed in Car Accident

Charles “Mask” Lewis. Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com

Charles Lewis Jr, better known to mixed martial arts fans as “Mask”, was reportedly killed in a car accident early this morning in Newport Beach, California. Lewis founded the popular “Tapout” clothing line in 1997 and eventually turned it into a multi-million dollar company.

From MMA Weekly:

At 12:57 a.m., a Newport Beach Police cruiser spotted Lewis’ red Ferrari and a white Porsche driving out of control on the southbound side of Jamboree Road, according to Lt. Jim Amormino, a public information officer with the Orange County Sherrif’s Department.
The Ferrari then struck the curb and hit a utility pole, tearing the car in half. After coming to a brief stop, the Porsche fled the scene. An unnamed female passenger was ejected from Lewis’ car in the crash. Newport Beach paramedics pronounced Lewis dead at the scene.
Newport Beach officers later spotted the Porsche and stopped its passengers, a male and female, who were seen walking away from the vehicle. Upon further investigation officers determined that the male, Jeffrey David Kirby, a 51-year-old resident of Costa Mesa, Calif., was the driver of the vehicle.
Kirby was arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter and taken to the Newport Beach Police Department. The female passenger, Lynn Marie Nabozny, a 32-year-old resident of Newport Beach, was arrested for public intoxication and released Wednesday morning. Kirby’s bail is set at $1 million dollars. The results of a blood alcohol test administered at the jail are forthcoming. No further motive for the accident is known at this time, according to Amormino.

This is absolutely horrible news. Mask’s contributions to the sport are endless. He sponsored fighters with money out of his own pocket at times when the big-time shows were taking place on dirt-floor arenas and it seemed like things would never change. It’s hard to think of another person that gave as much of their life to the sport as he did.

Bottom line: Mask gave a shit about the sport at a time when very few others did. Love him or hate him for his lifestyle, personality, or the way he dressed, he is one of the reasons why MMA is still around and flourishing today. I hope that he will be honored as such.

Our condolences go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Tapout’s Portrayal of Dan Lauzon Was Wrong

Dan Lauzon. Photo courtesy of World Championship Fighting.

First off, let me preface what I’m about to say: I’ve never met Dan or Joe Lauzon so this isn’t coming from some personal agenda or anything like that. I’m also not trying to bash anybody. I could be completely wrong with what I’m about to rant on but after watching last night’s Tapout episode, does anyone else think that their portrayal of Dan and his camp was pretty distasteful? I know that I do.

I’ve enjoyed all of Tapout’s past episodes, but not last night’s, it struck me the wrong way. The biggest thing was how the producers of the show made Lauzon’s trainers/partners come off as if they weren’t worthy to be instructing and helping Dan. This is the same gym that his older brother Joe and many other solid fighters have come out of over the past few years if I’m not mistaken, so why create the image of it being inferior?

I’m not sure if there’s some kind of connection between Tapout and Sityodong because they are on good terms with the UFC and whatever, but making them out to be the better place to train by light years isn’t very fair in my opinion. The constant berating of Dan’s camp during the off-camera interviews was unnecessary. I know that Mask and company probably don’t have that much say in terms of production, but you have to remember that Mask said what he said during the episode. If he disagreed with it, he could have spoken up.

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What Happened to Matt Fiordirosa?

Matt Fiordirosa. Photo courtesy of Wrecking Ball Fight Facility.

Everyone remembers “Sunshine”, right? You know, Matt Fiordirosa, the blond-haired kid that was constantly smiling, ventured on a semi cross-country trip with the TapouT crew on their reality show last season and ended up winning a fight outdoors in New Jersey (video here, a highlight here.) with Jeff Curran in his corner. Whatever happened to him? He was right on the doorstep of being one of the top, young featherweights in the game.

Guess what? We found him.

After almost a year away from the sport, Fiordirosa is just now getting back to training. A standout wrestler in high school, Fiordirosa owns wins over some pretty notable guys - HDNet Fights veteran Tristan Yunker and former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe among them. We were lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Matt, who touched a number of things including the reasoning behind his hiatus, his increase in popularity following the show, and where he’s currently training at these days.

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TapouT Headed to a Foot Locker Near You

Photo courtesy of TapouT.com.

Score another one for the TapouT crew. Two weeks prior to the season premiere of the popular California-based clothing company’s reality show, sports apparel giant Foot Locker has revealed that it has come to terms on a deal that would have Tapout apparel begin to be stocked in stores nationwide this fall.

Foot Locker CEO Matthew Serra (no relation) announced the news during a recent conference call with the media according to John O’Regan of Fighters Only Magazine.

The decision to add the TapouT to the company’s thousands of stores throughout North America comes after a successful test run of the brand in Champs Sports, a smaller subsidiary of Foot Locker usually located in shopping malls.

“TapouT is a new program that we first introduced in Champs late last year and continues to be very encouraging and will be rolled out to Foot Locker this fall,” Serra said in the report. “Consumer research indicates that our core customer base continues to look to our stores first for new trends and ultimate fighting is one of, if not the, fastest growing sports in the country.”

This is a huge step for Mask and company. The majority of their success has come from online-based sales over the past few years and only over the past year has their merchandise began to pop up in various stores around the world. If you thought TapouT was making millions before, the amount of money they will be bringing in later this year will be astounding.

HT: MMA Payout

Cerrone Tests Positive for Hydrochlorothiazide

TapouT reality star and WEC lightweight Donald Cerrone has tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that usually used to assist in weight-cutting by forcing the body to retain less water. The drug is currently banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Cerrone was found to have tested positive for the drug after test results came in from the WEC’s post-fight medical examinations. Cerrone was victorious in his WEC debut at the event, submitting Kenneth Alexander. UFC veteran Thiago Alves also tested positive for the drug at UFC 66 but his win over Tony DeSouza was not overturned since it was found that the drug did not help him in winning the fight. The chances are that the NSAC will see the same for Cerrone.

The other seven fighters tested after WEC 30: Rob McCullough, Rich Crunkilton, Chase Beebe, Rani Yahya, Bryan Baker, Jesse Forbes, and Kenneth Alexander all passed their post-fight tests.

TapouT Returns August 1st on Versus

STAMFORD, Conn.—From the producer of American Chopper and Dirty Jobs, the VERSUS original series TapouT follows Mask, Punkass and Skyskrape—the crew behind the premier mixed martial arts clothing and gear line TapouT—on their cross country travels in search of the next MMA superstar.  After a great series debut in June—which included three episodes and saw a 140 percent increase in household impressions for the time period average—all new episodes featuring the bad boys of MMA will premiere on VERSUS Wednesdays beginning August 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Traveling around the country in a tricked out tour bus, the crew is on the hunt to discover a fighter who has what it takes to represent the TapouT label; and before these up and comers fight their way out of the cage, they have to fight their way in with the TapouT crew.  The crew bonds with their fighter testing out his personality, and in between the usual TapouT mayhem makes sure their new protégé gets the proper training before the big fight.  In each episode, it’s all on the line in the dramatic conclusion as each fighter gets one shot to impress the crew and show off his skills in the cage.

“With this original reality series and our live World Extreme Cagefighting events, we are closer to our goal of becoming a top destination for the best mixed martial arts programming on television,” said Marc Fein, Senior Vice President of Programming and Production for VERSUS. “The uncompromising quality of our fights and original productions is what differentiates VERSUS from other networks.”

The TapouT brand is Mask’s—“The General” of the crew—creation.  His ‘inyaface’ attitude and no-nonsense approach are the basis of the TapouT world and a favorite of fans. Whether it’s prepping fighters or meeting fans, Mask is one of the most recognizable personalities in the combat sports world from the Las Vegas strip to the streets of New York City. Punk Ass is the strong, silent type with the entrepreneurial mind—he’s all business, all the time.  He’s the tough guy in any neighborhood he decides to make his own.  Skyskrape is the clown of the crew and is always decked out in outrageous wigs, costumes and sarcasm and he gets the crowd energized and pumped for every event.

Schedule and descriptions for new episodes follow.  All times are 10 p.m. ET/PT, subject to change:

TapouT scouts several talented fighters on a cross-country trip looking for new talent.  They stop in at Matt Hughes’ farm before heading out to the Ring of Fire, a mixed martial arts event in Colorado.

TapouT travels to Hawaii to sponsor Charuto who is BJ Penn’s jiu-jitsu instructor.  He hopes that with TapouT’s help, he’ll make his mark at the Icon MMA event in Honolulu.

TapouT meets Sergio, a promising fighter out of David Strasser’s gym in Wisconsin.  Sergio is struggling to leave his day job behind and become a full-time fighter and he gets his shot at his first MMA event in Las Vegas.

TapouT hits the road with their newest discovery, Sunshine.  The crew does their best to get their wide-eyed, innocent fighter into trouble before arriving in New Jersey for an MMA event at a baseball field.

The secretive Rob Roy is TapouT’s latest fighter.  His next fight is at a biker rally on the Mississippi river and everyone gets in to plenty of trouble before Rob Roy finally steps into the ring.

To ensure viewers get their full TapouT fix, VERSUS will re-air the first three episodes on July 31.

Mask, Skyskrape, and Punkass find a potential fighter in Albuquerque and take him to the Extreme Challenge in Iowa.

The TapouT crew travels to Chuck Liddell’s training center, the Pit, and decide to sponsor his friend and training partner, Antonio.  Mask and the crew join Antonio in Las Vegas for his fight.

HOT HEAD (10 p.m. ET)
TapouT picks up an inexperienced fighter at the American Kick Boxing Academy and takes him to his first professional bout.  Along the way, the fighter learns some tough lessons about what it takes to be a pro.

For more information, please visit: http://www.tapout.com or www.myspace.com/bad4thesport and to watch the clips from the show and for a full schedule, go to http://www.versus.com.