On this day, one year ago, the life of Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. came to a crashing and tragic end when the co-founder of the TapouT clothing company was involved in a fatal car accident.
That night in Orange County, CA. triggered a shockwave through the MMA community and was felt by everyone close to the sport.
From the fans that purchase the clothing and identify themselves as part of MMA culture to the fighters who drape it on their shoulders on their way to the octagon/cage, everyone felt the impact of Lewis’ passing.
His climb from selling t-shirts out of the back of a vehicle in 1997 to heading a multi-million dollar business is the definition of what hard work and hustle can do for the American business man.
With his partners, Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “SkyScrape” Katz, Lewis was able to take the TapouT brand beyond the clothing racks. In 2007, the trio made a successful transition to television with a reality series, appropriately named, TapouT . The show focused on finding new MMA talent while chronicling the daily lives of Lewis and his business partners.
Lewis was a frequent spectator at UFC and WEC fights. As much as he was a passionate businessman, his love for mixed martial arts may have been the only equal.
Having competed in MMA himself, he was more apart of the sport than most.
His TapouT persona, “Mask,” was unique and maybe even a bit frightening at first glance but when looking beyond the face paint, you would find a charismatic individual who knew the essence of MMA and what appealed to it’s fan base.
In July of 2009, Lewis was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and was rightfully recognized as a pioneer of the sport. His contributions to it’s growth and universal acceptance of it are unmatched by most and are an epic piece of MMA’s history.
Lewis’ success will be forever remembered by anyone familiar with the TapouT brand. The slogan “An expression of combat known worldwide” is indeed known throughout the world and MMA universe. It was the drive of Lewis and his business partners, Caldwell and Katz, that brought this slogan it’s popularity.
Drive of this magnitude is not seen in men everyday. Lewis had it and he will always be remembered for it.
Rest in Peace, “Mask.” MMA misses you and we’ll never forget you.