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Top mixed martial arts promoter dies in car crash
Posted on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 9:46 am
by IDMA Editor

A drunk driver has been convicted of killing a top mixed martial arts promoter in a deadly 100mph road race.

Horror: The remains of the Ferrari being driven by Charles Lewis in Newport Beach, California last March. He hit a concrete pole with such force that his car was literally torn in to two pieces

Force: The back half of the Ferrari. It hit with such force that the metal almost appears to have been cut rather than torn

Emergency personnel bend over the remains of the front of the Ferrari. Charles Lewis died in the crash, and his body had to be cut from the wreckage. His female companion was thrown clear and survived with multiple bone fractures

Jeffrey Kirby lost control of his 1977 Porsche and crashed into a Ferrari being driven by Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis, the founder of the popular TapouT clothing line.

Both drivers had female passengers and were involved in what witnesses told police was a high speed ‘cat and mouse game’ down a busy street in Newport Beach, California, in March last year.

Kirby – later found to be over the legal alcohol limit – collided with the Ferrari, sending it into a concrete pole that split it in half. Lewis, 46, of Huntington Beach, was trapped inside the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale and had to be cut free. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His passenger was thrown clear of the wreckage but suffered multiple bone fractures.

Deadly: Jeffrey Kirby was convicted of killing Charles Lewis, above,in the fatal game of cat and mouse

Kirby, 53, fled the scene but was arrested later and charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. He had previously been convicted of drunk driving in 2002.

The two halves of Lewis's Ferrari ended up about 30 feet from each other

Jurors in Santa Ana found him guilty on the manslaughter charge on Wednesday night. He could face up to 13 years behind bars when he is sentenced on February 4.

Lewis was a pioneer in mixed martial arts, which combines wrestling, martial arts and boxing. He and friends sold T-shirts at local gyms and events before founding the clothing line TapouT in 1997.

‘Alcohol is a major factor in this case,’ said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez.

He said one of Lewis' signature phrases was ‘simply believe.’ ‘He influenced a lot of people in a positive way in the mixed martial arts community,’ he added.

After the accident, Lewis was posthumously inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, the only non-fighter ever to have received the honour.

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