<p><p>I tried to write this a dozen times.<br />

On 11 March 2009, after midnight, Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis was heading home from the gym when his Ferrari was struck by a drunk driver, sending it into a fatal spin.

Mask began with an idea, a car trunk full of t-shirts, and the greatest friend and partner conceivable, Dan ‘Punkass’ Caldwell. Mask slept on couches and lived on hope, and when he made a little money, he sponsored fighters with it. This is not a tale of someone's dad who had to walk through a foot of snow to school both ways uphill. The TapouT crew's commitment was complete, often leaving nothing for a hotel room or even a beer in bar; I know this as a fact.

Sponsoring fighters exhausted all extra funds, leaving Mask still with an idea, a car trunk full of t-shirts, and with the addition of Skyskrape, two men who shared a vision that eventually came to represent the world’s greatest sport. Like so much else, countless companies followed their lead, and those modest sponsorships eventually grew into a phenomenon that today roughly doubles the fighter’s purse in our sport.

To understand Mask’s inspiration, turn to the master of magical realism, Noble Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote in his breakout novel 100 Years of Solitude:

“At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”

Mixed Martial Arts too was once as young, so recent that many things lacked names. But in order to recognize them, it was not necessary to point; what was necessary was TapouT. In Mask’s words:

“There was nothing that you could put on in that day that meant what we were feeling like. Mixed Martial Arts and fighting didn’t have any identity. You couldn’t put on a uniform and feel the way we felt in the gym. So, just as a need to identify what I was feeling on the inside of myself, I came up with a T-shirt.”

In 1999 the business grossed $29,000, leaving the pioneers of the entire MMA sportswear business actual hundredaires. By 2008, Punkass and Mask had kindly clawed their way to success only they alone could have imagined. The company was a madhouse-hold name with its own raucous television show, could be purchased in over 20,000 retail stores worldwide, and grossed a staggering $100,000,000. Their sights set once again higher than others can see, to not just double revenue, but to reach a billion dollars, or more.

Now Mask is dead. He will be mourned forever and ever.

But when you love this sport, you honor Mask. You honor Mask when you train your heart out in the gym, and understand better than any scholar what Shakespeare meant when he wrote “For he to-day that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother.” When this sport fills you with a feeling like no other, you may not have a word for it, but there is one – TapouT.

Believe is not a word, it was this man’s life. If you have a vision, believe it. Believe in yourself. Believe in the feeling this sport gives us. They say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. I don’t know about that, but if you believe in your highest hopes, believe in you, believe in all that this sport offers, then an angel will be laughing with you.

Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis 1964-2009

Rest the way you lived, Inyaface



Very well said.

Great post!

I'm PROUD to be a member of the UG and am indebted to the 'family' of MMA enthusiasts, and it's colorful, intelligent, and REAL people, for helping me regain focus in my life. THANK YOU MASK, and thank you Kirik for such eloquent words HONORING our fallen brother.

TTT for sure. Great post

 Excellent post. Very well written and clearly heartfelt. RIP Mask.


Props Kirik for posting what seemed to be a truly heartfelt statement. 

RIP Mask

 I am glad to have read that ... thank you.

 well said. kirik do you have any pics with him?

 Gave me chills...

 Thanks Kirik..

Right now those words gave me some serious strength.

It is hard to always believe. It helps to be reminded once in a while. Especially when the road seems so freaking hard. Then we think about those who have travelled before us.


Very well written and heartfelt. TTT to Kirik!

 TTT  Mask was a true inspiration to everyone to believe in a dream!!

Fantastic, Kirik.  RIP Mask.



Kirik, Thank you again for your wonderful gift of words. I personally didn't know Mask,but I have a better understanding of his drive and passion. I know his presence is greatly missed, but what a powerful impact he had made to MMA and the passion for life that he packed into each day. Thanks again for your thoughts and message. You captured the essence of his passion and commitment well. It is a message that gives strength to all of us.

very well said

 You notice it is always the drunk driver responsible for the wreck that is the one that walks away?