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TapouT Founder Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis Dies In Car Crash
Total Pro Sports – Rags to riches success story and co-founder of TapouT apparel Charles Lewis Jr. died in the early morning of March 12th after a head on road accident.
Lewis was driving his Ferrari in the Newport Beach area of California with an unnamed female passenger, who despite being ejected from the car is recovering in hospital, before encountering a white Porsche driven by a man identified as Jeffrey Kirby. A Newport officer who witnessed the accident reported a red Ferrari and white Porsche “spinning out of control” before Lewis’ car clipped a curve and struck a pole; the driver of the Porsche has been detained on gross vehicular manslaughter and crash investigators have asserted that the skid marks on the road are “consistent with excessive speed”.
Charles Lewis founded TapouT in 1997 selling clothing out of his car with business associate Dan Caldwell at regional MMA shows around the US, but with the explosion of MMA in the last 4 years TapouT found success developing its brand through association with many fighters including the ignominious Kimbo Slice. TapouT also became the first official clothing sponsor of Spike TV’s Ultimate Fighter Show in 2008’s Rampage vs Forest series, and Lewis found success with his own reality series titled TapouT on the Versus network which followed Lewis and Caldwell’s attempts to scout new fighters for the brand. The reality series helped cultivate his face painted ‘Mask’ character which, for better or worse, created a unique and exuberant identity for the company.
Despite his detractors, Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis gave many young fighters exposure and astutely recognized the lucrative opportunity of linking mixed martial arts to clothing over half a decade before Affliction entered the market. Whether you love him or hate him, the loss of his personable and candid attitude will be felt in the MMA community.