Most MMA fans only knew of “Mask,” the outgoing and charismatic figure that was the heart and soul behind the popular clothing brand Tapout. Not too many were allowed past the face paint and facade to know how great of a person Charles Lewis II actually was.
Lewis, along with his long-time friends Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Skyskrape, started their Tapout organization from the living room of their San Bernadino, California apartment. After many years of relentless marketing, which included long hours selling their gear out of the trunks of their cars at MMA events, they were able to carve themselves a nice niche in the MMA clothing market.
During their reign together, the company steadily grew from $29,000 in sales in 1999, to $25 million by 2007, and The Press-Enterprise reports they raked in over $100 million in 2008.
The Tapout brand and logo are now synonymous with MMA, and there is no way they could have achieved that status without Mask’s contributions.
Before his life was tragically taken last Wednesday, Mask was simply the Tapout member that you couldn’t forget. Now he is the MMA pioneer that will forever be remembered.
Here are a few quotes from influential figures around MMA speaking about the character of the guy inside of the character “Mask.”
UFC president, Dana White:
You couldn’t meet a nicer guy, a more friendly, outgoing guy, a more loyal guy. He really was a good person. He’s one of the pioneers, one of the legends of this sport.
This guy was selling T-shirts out of the trunk of his car and when we first got involved with the UFC, we met them. We really liked them. We liked their energy. They were good people and we got together and we started doing all this grassroots marketing together – the UFC and Tapout. They were very loyal to us and we were very loyal to them.
And it sucks to see a guy who has worked so hard his whole life, to finally make it and break through, and then have something like this happen to him.
UFC lightweight top contender, Kenny Florian:
Mask, aka Charles, was such a positive individual who inspired many, many people to live life to the fullest and follow their dreams. He was a great example of how intelligence, hard work, and faith will always pay off. Charles was always looking for ways to lift people up and help anyone he could. He was the ultimate listener and master communicator. He loved MMA and loved life. His laugh was proof of that.
It is tough to see people like Charles go. He was such a giving person and just wanted to see everyone reach their potential. Charles lives on however through the legacy and many friends he left behind and through the brand he helped create. For those who had the pleasure of meeting or knowing him, he helps us to realize we should all live life like he did.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion, and Tapout endorsed fighter, Chuck Liddell:
I don’t really know what to say. I talked to him before it happened. He and I were very close friends. He was a great guy and I’m going to miss him a lot.
Tapout co-owner and best friend, Dan “Punkass” Caldwell:
To my best friend in the world, you’ll be forever missed, but always remembered.