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The French Have A Word For It....Judo
by Dave Goode
If you wanted to see martial arts action in western cinema during the 60s,the place you wanted to go was the secret agent movie.You wouldn't find
too many spinning wheel-kicks in these flicks.Just stalwart,square-jawed secret agents trading shuto blows and judo throws with hired assasins and
enemy agents.The same basic hand to hand combat techniques that these steely-eyed cold warriors would have learned while in the military before
embarking on a life in counter-intelligance and espionage.To be sure Bruce Lee student and future Academy Award winner James Coburn had some
well choreographed martial arts scenes in OUR MAN FLINT and it's sequel IN LIKE FLINT in which he portrayed super agent,Derek Flint.American
karate champions Joe Lewis,Mike Stone and Chuck Norris flashed a little bit of their tournament wining style as hitman in the Matt Helm movie,THE
WRECKING CREW starring Dean Martin.But for the most part the heroes and villians in these movies adhered to the K.I.S.S(Keep it simple stupid.)
system.The major exception to this rule were the Le Judoka movies.
Author and judo practioner,Ernie Clerk wrote a series of just under a dozen books about a secret agent known as Le Judoka.These books were incredibly popular in France.No suprise in that when you realize how popular the sport of judo is in France.So it was in 1967 during the height of
of the secret agent craze that Marc St.Clair...Le Judoka was brought to life on the silver screen.LE JUDOKA,SECRET AGENT was adapted from
author Clerk's book THE JUDOKA DANS LA VILLE by screenwriters Jacques Guymont and Pierre Zimmer.The film was directed by Zimmer and
starred Jean-Claude Bercq as Le Judoka.Also featured is Henri Garcin as the hero's comic relief sidekick and beautiful Marilu Tolo as a femme fatale
named Vanessa.The movie really isn't much different from any other Eurospy movie from the period,except for the hero's martial arts skills that went
beyond the typical shuto blow to the neck.And this movie was successful to warrant a sequel.
I'm sure that if LE JUDOKA DANS L'ENFER(THE JUDOKA IN HELL) had had an American release it would be enjoying cult status today.This
1968 sequel directed by Maurice Labro from a screenplay by Labro and Jean Meckert found,George Lazenby lookalike,Marc Briand replacing
Jean-Claude Bercq in the role of Marc St.Clair.Marilu Tolo is back,but this time she plays a character named Jennifer.Like Bercq before him Briand
is ruggedly handsome and even more athletic.When he goes into action you can believe you are watching a rokudan at work.Of special note this film
features a young man named Jean Ferre in the role of a cyclopean martial arts master.Ferre may be better known to you under the name he took as a
professional wrestler...Andre the Giant.Wearing make-up to make him look Asian and sporting a black gi,Ferre gives a tameshiwari demo breaking
both bricks and boards before tossing some normal sized judokas like rag dolls.The young Ferre hadn't yet attained the full height and bulk that would
make him world famous,but he's still an imposing sight.He apears about to be 6'9" and 300 pounds.
The one on one battle between Briand and Ferre is the highlight of this Eurospy thriller.The plot has a pilot kidnapped by the Black Dragon Society
and brainwashed to drop a bomb on Manhattan.Le Judka is sent to rescue him.Pretty simple.The fight choreography is anything but,and you end up
believing Le Judoka can more than hold his own against his titanic adversary.A really fun movie if not an exceptional one from the Eurospy genre.
HEY...THE SHOW WAS TITLED THE GREEN HORNET!
by Dave Goode
Anyone who saw DRAGON(1993)the Bruce Lee bio-pic starring Jason Scott Lee might have walked away thinking that the title character
from THE GREEN HORNET television series from the mid-60s did little more than wait around to be saved by his sidekick Kato.But if
you actually watched the show you know that the Hornet played by actor Van Williams was a more than capable hero on his own.
Sure it was Bruce Lee as Kato,The Hornet's man-servant,who carried most of the show's fight scenes,but this was in keeping with the show's
central conceit.The Green Hornet was a crimefighter who masqueraded as a criminal mastermind to get the goods on real criminals.So it
only made sense that the Hornet had somebody around to take care of his "light work". The Green Hornet usually took out the bad guys with
two techno-weapons,the electronic "Hornet's sting" and a gas gun.But when push came to shove the Green Hornet could get down and dirty in
the trenches.Usually with a left hook or right cross.But sometimes he used judo techniques like the ippon seo nage,osoto gari and tomoe nage.
Hopefully the show will get a DVD release so that a new generation can see how cool The Green Hornet is.That Seth Rogen flick certainly was
not the way to go in that regard.
JOHN SAXON...JUDO MASTER
by Dave Goode
Before he teamed up with Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly as one third of "The Deadly 3" in ENTER THE DRAGON(1973),John Saxon showed
off his martial arts skills in the movie CRY TOUGH(1959). In one of his first roles after his stint as a teen idol,Saxon portrays a Puerto Rican
ex-con just released from the big house who trys to go straight.Circumstances and a seductress in the form of beautiful Linda Cristal however
draw him back into a life of crime.His rise in the underworld is helped by his knowledge of judo,which he learned in prison.There are only
two scenes in which he's seen using his judo techniques.Both times he uses his skills to defend himself from opponents using bladed weapons.
And quit frankly he looks more convincing doing judo in this film than he did doing karate,kung fu,tai chi or whatever that was he was supposed
to be doing 14 years later in what many people consider to be the ultimate martial arts movie.
[b]List of celebrity judoka
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The following is a list of celebrities or who have trained in the martial art and sport of judo.
See also: List of judoka
1 Academics and educators
2 Actors and entertainers
7 Writers and directors
Academics and educators
MoshÃ© Feldenkrais (scientist/healer/author/teacher, b.1904 d.1984) held a Doctor of Science in engineering from the Sorbonne, and was the founder of the Feldenkrais Method which was designed to improve human functioning by increasing self-awareness through movement. Feldenkrais started learning judo in 1930, and met Kano Jigoro in 1933. He became a close friend of Kano, and corresponded with him regularly. Kano chose him to be one of the doors through which the East attempts to meet the West. He was one of the first Europeans to be awarded a black belt (in 1936), and he received his 2nd dan in 1938. From his position on the European Judo Council, he began to scientifically study Judo, later incorporating the knowledge he gained through his self-rehabilitation. He founded the French Judo Association and published three books about judo.
Terry Halpin (computer scientist): Halpin is an Australian academic who is well-known in the field of modelling information systems, having authored five books and over one hundred technical papers. He holds a black belt in judo.
Aza Raskin (computer scientist, b.1984): Aza Raskin, son of the late, noted human-computer interface expert Jef Raskin, is an American user experience and product design expert who practises judo. He is currently Head of User Experience at Mozilla Labs. Raskin gave his first talk on user interface at age 10 and by 20 he was speaking internationally.
Kano Jigoro (educator, b.1860 d.1938): Kano was director of primary education for the Japanese Ministry of Education (æ��é�¨ç��, MonbushÅ�) from 1898-1901. He played a key role in getting judo and kendo made part of the Japanese public school programs. He was also a pioneer of international sports, and became the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), serving from 1909 until 1938. Kano was the founder of judo.
Actors and entertainers
Lucille Ball (actress): Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo Karate, taught judo to Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance on the I Love Lucy show.
James Cagney (actor b.1899 d.1986): Cagney was a judo black belt. See Cagney performing numerous judo techniques in this extract from Blood on the Sun.
Melanie Chisholm (formerly Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls): had to withdraw from her involvement in the TV series The Games in 2003 due to a knee injury sustained in the judo competition against 2002 Miss World Azra AkÄ±n.
George Harris (judo movie star): Harris starred in a feature film tiled "Judo's Gentle Tiger", also known as "The Year of the Gentle Tiger". A forerunner to "The Karate Kid", it was shot in the late 1970s, and was later broadcast as an NBC daytime program. Harris also appeared on talk shows and was twice a guest on "To Tell the Truth". He was a two-time Pan American judo champion, and four-time US National judo champion.
Brian Jacks (BBC Superstars): achieved national fame for his outstanding "Gym Test" performances on the BBC programme Superstars and made him a household name in England. His victories in the British and European Superstars lead to the creation of the branded computer games: Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge and Brian Jacks Uchi Mata. In 1984 he briefly appeared on the BBC show "Micro Live", where he set up his new Atari 800XL with his family. Jacks was the youngest ever British 8th dan in judo; was an Olympic medallist; and competed in over 3000 tournaments.
Gene LeBell (stuntman/actor, b.1932): LeBell has worked on over 350 films and TV shows and is commonly known as "the Godfather of Grappling" and "the Toughest Man Alive". In 2002, Gene LeBell was promoted to 10th dan in judo by Jon Bluming in Holland. In February 2005, he was promoted to 9th dan in Traditional Kodokan Judo by the USJJF.
Chuck Norris (actor): Norris's introduction to martial arts took place in South Korea after enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1958. He left Korea with a black belt in Tang Soo Do, and a brown belt in judo. In his movies he can often be seen executing O Goshi, Uki Goshi, Seoi Nage, Waki Gatame and Tomoe Nage.
Peter Sellers (actor/comedian, b.1925 d.1980): Sellers practised judo and was appointed President of the London Judo Society in 1962.
Valerie Singleton OBE (English television and radio presenter): Singleton started taking judo self-defence classes for women at the Budokwai in London in 2002.
Bo Svenson (actor): The lead actor of the original Walking Tall movies is a third degree blackbelt in judo. He was also the 1961 Far East Judo Champion in the Heavyweight Division.
Yves Klein (French Artist, b.1928 d.1962) A 4th dan black belt and instructor, he published a book Les Fondements du Judo ("The Foundations of Judo") in 1954. Judo also strongly influenced his art and philosophy.
Matsutaro Shoriki (sports commissioner / media mogul / politician, b.1885 d.1969): owned one of Japan's major daily newspapers, and founded Japan's first commercial television station. He also was elected to the House of Representatives and appointed to the House of Peers. He became Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) first commissioner in 1949, and in 1959, he was the first inductee into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, and is known as the "father of Japanese professional baseball". In 1957, his biography was published in New York, titled Shoriki: Miracle Man of Japan. In 1969 he was awarded judo's highest rank by the Kodokan: 10th dan.
Taki Theodoracopulos (shipping heir / businessman / writer / columnist, b.1937): Taki is 2008 World Masters judo champion, a former captain of the national Greek karate team (he holds a six-dan black belt), has represented Greek tennis in the Davis Cup, and is a keen skier and sailor. To take out the 2008 world title, he won nine three-minute matches, but lost two fingernails and suffered a black eye. He said: "Now I quit. I'll never do it again. I'm very banged up." He wrote about the experience in his online magazine.
Azra AkÄ±n (Turkish 2002 Miss World): won the judo competition in the TV series The Games in 2003.
Laetitia Casta (Actress/Model): Casta was the official face of L'OrÃ©al, Dior, and Chanel. She was the Guess? Jeans girl in 1993, and has appeared on over 100 magazine covers. She was Rolling Stone's Hottest Model of the Year. Casta has a brown belt in judo.
Yasmin Le Bon (English supermodel): she and her husband Simon Le Bon practice judo at the Budokwai in London.
Simon Le Bon (lead singer and lyricist of the pop/rock band Duran Duran): he and his wife Yasmin Le Bon are practicing judo at the Budokwai in London.
Billy Thorpe (rock musician of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs): learned judo from a coach of Anton Geesink in Brisbane, Australia. Thorpe used judo to throw two policemen who attacked him in a violent false arrest in Sydney, Australia in 1964.
Writers and directors
Terence Donovan (photographer and film director b.1936 d.1996): directed Robert Palmer's music video Addicted to Love, which won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. It was his idea to feature pale skinned models pretending to play backup, the visual element that made the video so memorable. He was also a black belt in judo and co-authored a popular judo book Fighting Judo with former World Judo Gold medallist Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki.
Guy Richie (film director): Guy Ritchie trains regularly in both judo and BJJ. He has a black belt in judo.
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (U.S. Senator for Colorado, 1993â��2005): Campbell won three U.S. national championships and a gold medal at the 1963 Pan American Games judo competition. He was captain of the U.S. judo team in the 1964 Summer Olympics, and was chosen to carry the American flag during the closing ceremonies.
William Hague (leader of the Conservative Party in the UK, 1997â��2001): long-standing practitioner at the Budokwai in London. Judo is credited for transforming him from a "weak indecisive" "bit of a weed" into an "action man".
Pierre Trudeau (former Prime Minister of Canada, 1968â��1979 and 1980â��1984): 2nd dan black belt, Takahashi School of Martial Arts in Ottawa.
Vladimir Putin (Russian President, 2000â��2008; Russian Prime Minister, 2008â��): Putin was awarded 6th dan (prestigious red & white belt) at the Kodokan in 2000. In the 1970s, he was awarded a Master of Sports in both judo and sambo. Putin has described judo as "my favorite sport", and he continues to practice it. In 2004 he co-authored a book about judo, published in Russian as Judo with Vladimir Putin and in English as Judo: History, Theory, Practice. The book has now been made into a film called Judo with Vladimir Putin. Here is a short video clip of Putin executing a throw.
Theodore Roosevelt (US President 1901â��1909): Roosevelt was the first world leader to learn judo, and the first American to reach brown belt. A very keen judoka, he took lessons up to three times a week from judo's first-ever 10th dan, Yamashita Yoshiaki. Roosevelt was instrumental in appointing Yamashita to teach judo at the US Naval Academy.
Ulla Werbrouck (Belgian politician, 2007â��): Olympic gold medalist and six-time European champion.
Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany is not a black belt judoka, as often misleadingly stated, although her political style sometimes is called the Judo method.
Albert II (Prince of Monaco, 2005â��): 1st dan black belt.
Jeremy Glick (September 11 Flight 93 counterattacker): Glick's last words to his wife on United Airlines Flight 93 were: "We're going to rush the hijackers." Then he put down the phone. Glick was US National Collegiate Judo champion in 1993.
Peter Senerchia, otherwise known as the professional wrestler Tazz, studied judo prior to entering the wrestling scene.
^ Past Personalities - The Budokwai
^ Some History from the Australian Feldenkrais Center
^ Feldenkrais and Judo by Dennis Leri
^ Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., (1904 - 1984) Biography (achievingexcellence.com)
^ Asymetrix Corp.'s Dr. Terry Halpin - Black Belt Design DBMS Interview - September 1995
^ http://www.humanized.com/about/ Humanized, Inc - Who We Are
^ BayCHI Monthly Program, Tuesday, September 13, 1994
^ EuroPython Society - The Failure of Applications
^ The Godfather of Grappling (authorised biography of LeBell) by "Judo" Gene Lebell, Bob Calhoun, George Foon, and Noelle Kim. 2005. Page 13 (includes photo).
^ "James Cagney is a judo black belt" (judoinfo.com)
^ Excerpt from the movie Blood on the Sun - showing James Cagney using judo
^ a b Ex-Spice Girl Mel C faces surgery - BBC News, 12 September 2003
^ Ten Questions with George Harris - by Rebecca Barnett. Published in The Masters, Judo for Adults (2000)
^ "Superstars: A brief history". BBC. 2004-11-05. Retrieved 19 October 2006.
^ a b Judo Heroes - 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games website
^ BBC MICRO Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge YouTube video.
^ Uchi Mata Commodore 64 game site
^ Micro Live Brian Jacks follow up - YouTube video.
^ Gene LeBell at the Internet Movie Database
^ These nicknames were immortalised in the titles of two books about LeBell.
^ Gene LeBell biography - at the USA Traditional Kodokan Judo website (a program of the USJJF)
^ Judo (edmatrix.us)
^ Biography of Peter Sellers
^ The Shy Man - Time Magazine, 27 April 1962 (prior to being appointed President of the London Judo Society)
^ a b c d Tired of the gym? Belt up for judo - Daily Telegraph, UK, October 2002.
^ IMDb entry for Bo Svenson
^ Les Fondements du Judo ("The Foundations of Judo") by Yves Klein. Paris:Grasset, 1954.
^ SENIOR SCRAPPER: the toughest 71-year-old in the world 71 YEAR OLD TAKI THEODORACOPULOS WINS WORLD JUDO CHAMPIONSHIPS AND QUITS - New York Post. 1 July 2008.
^ Taki is World Judo Champion! - Taki Magazine. 3 July 2008.
^ Laetitia Casta - Biography - at imdb.com
^ Sex and Thugs and Rock 'n' Roll (1997) by Billy Thorpe.
^ Interview with Robert Palmer on a late night talk show.
^ Fighting Judo, by Kashiwazaki and Donovan, 1985 (Amazon.com)
^ "I am used to getting a good rumping from the critics. So what?" by Charlotte Edwardes, Daily Telegraph, UK. September 26, 2005.
^ How judo made a man out of Hague
^ Lord Coe - Guardian interview discusses how Coe introduced Hague to judo. 2 May 2008.
^ Takahashi, M. et all (2005). Mastering Judo. USA: Human Kinetics.
^ Black-Belt President Putin: A Man of Gentle Arts by Yasuhiro Yamashita
^ Vladimir Putin: the NPR interview U.S. radio station National Public Radio New York (November 15, 2001)
^ Putin, Vladimir V.; Vasilii Shestakov, Alexey Levitsky, Aleksei Levitskii (July 2004). Judo: History, Theory, Practice. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-445-6.
^ Presidential Judo by Tom Ross
^ Professor Yamashita Goes to Washington by Joseph R. Svinth, in Journal of Combative Sport, Oct 2000
^  Ein neuer Regierungsstil, Handelsblatt, 2005
^ Albert II, Prince of Monaco - biography
^ Heroes: Facing the End - The Fight for Flight 93 Time cover story.
^ Jennifer Glick: Jeremy's Heroes foundation commemorates brother - CNN. 9 November 9, 2001
^ A Friend, a Father, a Hero by Adrian Wojnarowski. Bergen (NJ) Record. September 14, 2001
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_celebrity_judoka&oldid=461260637"
Lists of celebrities
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This page was last modified on 18 November 2011 at 11:12.
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by Dave Goode
Brad Harris was one of many American bodybuilders who went to Europe in the early 60s to star in the peplum cycle of films.Or what are more
commonly known as "gladiator movies". His first film roles were as muscular extras in Hollywood productions like Monkey On My Back and the
film adaptation of the Broadway musical Li'l Abner.In Stanley Kubrick's epic film Spartacus he did stuntwork and had a small role(literally as a spear-carrier).After Spartacus was completed he stayed in Europe and starred in such sinew and sandal flicks as The Fury of Hercules and Goliath Against The Giants.After the peplum cycle ran it's course,Harris slimmed down a bit to star in detective movies and spy films including the Kommisar X series.
Co-starring Tony Kendall(Luciana Stella),the Kommisar X movies were one of the more popular series from the Eurospy genre of 60s films and were
based on the novels of German pulp author Paul Alfred Muller.Undoubtably one of the main reasons for the popularity of the series was the chemistry
between it's two leads.Kendall played Joe Walker,the handsome ladies man private eye.Harris had the less showy role as square-jawed and serious police captain Tom Rowland.There were seven entries in the series that began with Hunting The Unknown a.k.a Kiss Kiss Kill Kill in 1965 and ended
in 1971 with The Tiger Gang.
The Kommisar X flicks are a lot of fun.All of them are entertaining,containing all the elements you would expect from a 60s spy flick. Evil masterminds with plans for world domination,beautiful women(both damsels in distress and femme fatales),gun fights and limited martial arts action.
Most of the fights in these flicks found the heroes mixing judo with boxing techniques and the occasional knifehand blow to the neck thrown in.But there was a little bit more in the Kommisar X series.Every now and then you would notice Harris drop into a horse stance and take out an opponent with a reverse punch,that when delivered by the former screen Hercules looked like it might stop a tank.The best would come in the fourth film in the
series...Death Is Nimble,Death Is Quick(1966).
This flick begins with Dan Vadis(another former screen Hercules)dressed in a black robe performing a kata in a cavern/temple somewhere in Ceylon.A short time later his character,named the King,assassinates a diplomat with his karate skills.For some reason that's never explained,he puts a black headband on before he kills someone.A short time later we're introduced to Harris as Capt.Tom Rowland of the NYPD who just happens to be in Ceylon for an Interpol convention.There he gives a demonstration of his own martial arts skills.The stage has been set.You know that by the end of the movie Captain Rowland and the King will be going mano a mano.
The showdown comes in the same temple that we first met the King in.The two antagonists are surrounded by mysterious golden-masked priestesses they tear into each other.The fight would seem quaint to those brought up on Jackie Chan and Jet Li.But to a 1966 audience it would have looked pretty darn cool.It's one drawback is that Harris' shirt isn't torn off in the course of the battle.The two former Hercules going one on one in a karate fight with muscles rippling and gleaming with sweat would have made this a camp classic for the ages.
JUDO'S CLOWN PRINCE, July 20, 2009
By David M. Goode "zen master of useless trivia"This review is from: The Godfather of Grappling (Hardcover)
When I call Gene LeBell the "clown prince of judo" it's done with the utmost of respect.The man's record speaks for itself.And I can't recommend this book enough.LeBell's stories about his days as a competitive judoka,professional wrestler and Hollywood stuntman are both fun and fascinating.As are his tales of his schooldays and service in the Coast Guard.Especially interesting are Judo Gene's recollections about his judo vs. boxing challenge match against light-heavyweight contender Milo Savage.A bout some people consider the forerunner to today's MMA matches.Another part of the book that I found particularly interesting was his relationship with the late George Reeves,television's original Superman.Heck,I would have probably bought this book just for the photo of Gene posing in his Mr.Kryptonite costume alongside Reeves as Superman.I would love to have seen these two grappling on their personal appearance tours with Reeves' television co-star Noel Neil.You'll also find interesting stories about Elvis Presley and Bruce Lee here. This is a great read and anyone who is a martial arts enthusiast should own a copy.However keep your distance from the book THE TOUGHEST MAN ALIVE which is nothing more than an unauthorized copy of this book.
You can read more of Dave Goode's reviews at Amazon.
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JUST WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?
The True Story of Mr. Incognito (Give or take a lie or two.)
There aren't too many substantiated facts to be found about the man know to the world as Mr. Incognito. This is to be expected of a man who spent his time in the public eye wearing any one of a dozen masks. It more than a little difficult to separate the fact from the fiction. But as someone once said,When the legend becomes bigger than the truth, you throw out the truth and print the legend. Or something like that. Legend has it that the masked man was an amateur wrestling champion who later took up judo, earning the coveted black belt. While earning some extra money as an artist's model he was encouraged to enter a local bodybuilding contest where he won a sub-division and the title of Mr. Perfect Pecs. A wrestling promoter who was in attendance at the contest, and who was impressed by the future masked mans sense of showmanship, offered him a contract to turn professional. After a month learning the intricacies of the pro mat game, he was ready to enter the squared circle. A lifelong comic book fan, he decided to wear a mask similar to those of Mexico luchadors and took the name of Mr. Incognito after an obscure comic book villain.
Billed as a judo master, though he only held the rank of shodan (first degree black belt); Mr. Incognito spent his first year wrestling professionally, playing David to the Goliaths of the wrestling world. Using the science of judo, he often triumphed over villainous grapplers who outweighed him by as much as fifty pounds. Once established as a fan favorite, the masked man became the I.W.O.'s first junior heavyweight champ, after winning a tournament that featured the likes of Spyder Ricco, Piano Mover Jones, Young Samson and Lightning McCoy.
There were a number of things that made Mr. Incognito, the Masked Marvel, a fan favorite. As mentioned earlier, the six foot tall, two hundred pound judoka quite often wrestled against larger opponents. This immediately put the fans in his corner. As basketball great Wilt Chamberlain so eloquently put it, Nobody roots for Goliath.Ã� His masks, of course, lent as air of mystery to him. Once you cover something up, everybody wants to see whats underneath. And in an era when a good number of professional wrestlers were built like beer truck drivers, Mr. Incognito had a physique like a Charles Atlas student. Not the rococo body of todays steroid monsters, but the type of functional, athletic body that a decathlete would have. A physique that was more tarzanic than it was Herculean.
Another thing that put the masked man over the top was his use of valets. Mr. Incognito was one of the few baby face wrestlers to use the valet gimmick. This was something, as a rule, that was reserved for heels. Usually the preening, peroxide and pompadour, pretty boys whose narcissist mannerisms generated heat from the fans. In the case of the masked man, it added to his mystique. When he entered the squared circle with a beautiful woman attending him, you could not help but wonder what he must like unmasked.
A shameless and tireless self-promoter, Mr. Incognito once wrestled an alligator on a bet, while vacationing one winter in Florida. He then, in turn, laid claim to the title of worlds champion alligator wrestler light-heavyweight division. A claim that realistically couldn't be disputed. Sort of like years later when Andy Kaufman would lay claim to the title of Intergender Wrestling Champion of the Universe. He even had a special belt made that he would sometimes take into the ring with him along with his I.W.O. Junior Heavyweight strap. It even got him featured in the nationally syndicated Believe it or dont! strip. But the thing that really put him over the top was a guest appearance in Superior Man No. 152.
The Superior Man comic book was based on the short lived syndicated television series from the early 1950, staring former Olympic swimming champion and movie serial hero Bust Crabbe. A blatant rip-off of The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves, The Superior Man show told the story of the last survivor of fabled Atlantis. Coming to America with powers beyond those of mere surface-dwellers, he spent most of his time fighting commie spies, racketeers and the occasional mad scientist. Only twenty-six episodes were filmed and of these only twenty-two were aired. Over the years this low-budget offering with its juvenile storylines and cheesy special effects has become a cult favorite.
The Superior Man comic book proved to be even more popular than the television show that spawned it. Running for sixteen years and nearly two hundred issues, it was in Superior Man No. 152 from September 1966 that Mr. Incognito made his first comic book appearance. Legend has it that Goode Guy Productions, the published of Superior Man, approached N.W.A. champion Gene Kiniski, A.W.A. champ Verne Gagne and W.W.W.F. titleholder Bruno Sammartino with an offer to appear as a guest star in the comic book but were turned down. It was a simple matter of economics. The small publisher wasn't able to meet the price any of the superstars were looking for to appear in the periodical. So Goode Guy settled on using the junior heavyweight champion of the lesser know International Wrestling Organization.
In the story, Superior Man agrees to meet the Masked Marvel in an exhibition match for charity. During the course of the match, the Man of Mystery uses judo to keep the Man of Might off balance. This was another example of how pulp fiction from the 1960s made anyone who wore a black belt appear to have magical powers, capable of tossing the most cyclopean of opponents with a mere flick of the wrist. Judos principle of using an opponent's own strength against them, probably wouldn't work against someone like Superior Man, who could clean-and-jerk a tank, if that person existed in the real world. He could dispatch a regiment of black belts without working up a sweat.
In any case, while the two heroes are grappling, a group of criminals decide to know over the box-office. After their escape is cut off by the police, the thieves try to escape through the arena itself. They end up on the squared circle where Mr. Incognito uses his grappling skills to subdue them. The story ends with Superior Man and Mr. Incognito shaking hands while the man of might casually remarks that the masked man's judo prowess would be a welcome addition in the fight against crime and injustice. This story almost seemed like a tryout for a Mr. Incognito comic book. Sadly, this was not to be the case. But it did bring more fans to I.W.O. matches, especially when the masked marvel was on the card. And the man of mystery would end up a comic book hero. In a fashion.
Mr. Incognito and his valet, Delilah were featured on the cover of the February 1967 edition of Judo World magazine. On the inside was a three page article (complete with photos) about the masked marvel and how he used judo to become a wrestling champion. When the editors of Judo World found out that this issue double the sales on the previous best-selling issue of their magazine, it was decided that they would feature the masked man in their magazine every issue. But how? The answer would come with the May 1967 issue of Judo World. Once again Mr. Incognito and Delilah were featured on the magazine cover. On the inside, about halfway through the periodical, was a three page comic strip starring the masked marvel. The strip reflected something that occurred in the months between Incognito's appearance in the February issue and this one. The loss of his world championship to Cowboy Bob Watson. In the course of the story, sports promoter Stan Saperstein talks to Incognito about getting the masked man a rematch with Watson who had lost the title himself to Luis Chacon, the Tijuana Tarzan. The reader got to see Mr. Incognito put his grappling shills to good use rescuing a night club waitress from two would be assailants. The waitress turns out to be Delilah, an exotic beauty the masked man had planned on hiring to act as his valet.
In the next issue the reader gets to see glimpses of how a pro wrestler trains for a bout. Part of Mr. Incognito's regimen has him in a randori session with a sparring partner who looks suspiciously like the infamous Count Dante. In the next issue Mr. Incognito regains the junior heavyweight championship from the Tijuana Tarzan and takes down a purse-snatcher for the local police.
The next two installments of the strip found Mr. Incognito entering into the world of B-movies like his Mexican counterparts el Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras. This was something the masked man would be doing soon in real life. When Mr. Incognito first began wrestling professionally, he was approached by the Dynamic Models Guild to appear in a series of 8mm loops. The DMG was known for its homo-erotic shorts featuring athletic young men, garbed as various sexual icons, grappling. You had cowboys fighting Indians, motorcycle cops pinning outlaw bikers, Marines wrestling Sailors and of course gladiators in the arena. The loops featuring Mr. Incognito had the masked man either performing katas or demonstrating tameshiwari techniques. Usually while the presence of his valets so the viewer would have no doubt about which team the man of mystery played for. These short subjects helped prepare the masked man for his starring roles in such C-movie classics as Mad Ape, Terror on Thunder Mountain and the Return of Dr. Uranus. It was also around this time Mr. Incognito began appearing in nightclubs doing a stand-up comedy routine. The act had only one fault. It wasn't very funny.
Meanwhile, back in Judo World, the Mr. Incognito comic strip began to move into a different direction. Originally the strip was simply about the day to day life of a masked wrestler who just happened to be a judo practioner. Now the masked man was performing more like an actual comic book hero. In between wrestling engagements, Mr. Incognito was helping the authorities round up escaped Nazi war criminals and corral mad scientists and their pet gorillas. In addition, the strips would expand from 3 to 6 pages.
Return with us now to a time when comics were still fun. The swinging 60s of Batmania, mini-skits and intelligent apes, when a man in a mask could use the science of judo to wrestle against the principalities and powers of darkness.