Charles Lewis, Jr. a.k.a Mask, a member of the ubiquitous Tapout crew, was killed early this morning in a traffic accident in Newport Beach, Calif. The driver of the other car was reportedly taken into custody, and Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lewis, pictured in the center above, founded Tapout 12 years ago, and has grown it into a multimillion dollar business with a large stable of fighters under sponsorship, including Chuck Liddell and Frank Shamrock. He also led the reality show that followed Mask and his crew around the country, looking for up-and-coming fighters. According to Tapout's Web site:
Mask is the militant face responsible for the Tapout brand and lifestyle - a movement, really – “an expression of combat known world wide.” Whether it’s scouting fighters all over the country or being present at every single fight, Mask is one of the most recognizable personalities in the combat sports world. From a clothing line, to sponsoring top-notch fighters, to an original reality TV-series, Mask is a cultural revolutionary, constantly evolving. You’ll never see him without his makeup or without his fierce approach, and you'll definitely never catch him off guard – instead, Mask will prey on you.
As much as four-ounce gloves and the cage, the Tapout crew is a part of the MMA experience. They pride themselves in making it to as many MMA events as they can. Come WEC 40, the next U.S. major event, Mask will be missed dearly.
UPDATE: Tapout has released a statement on the passing of Mask.
It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we must regretfully confirm the passing of our beloved friend, brother and co-founder Charles "Mask" Lewis following a car accident that occurred last night. We are currently in the process of setting up a memorial service in his honor and will release more details as they become available.
Many thanks to all for the outpouring of blessings and well-wishes during this incredibly difficult time.
More on the accident from the Orange County Register:
Cage Writer will keep you updated on any memorial arrangements and other developments.