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Great Fencing Champions

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Obviously, this is not a complete list and it will always be "a work in progress."  If you have a champion you believe should be on the list, please email the name and a BRIEF biography to webmaster@acfencers.com and, after confirming the information, we may just add him/her to the list. 

WORLD CHAMPIONS

Men's Epee - World Championships Medal Winners

Men's Foil - World Championships Medal Winners

Men's Sabre - World Championships Medal Winners

Women's Epee - World Championships Medal Winners

Women's Foil - World Championships Medal Winners

Women's Sabre - World Championships Medal Winners

OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS

Men's Epee - Olympic Games Medal Winners

Men's Foil - Olympic Games Medal Winners

Men's Sabre - Olympic Games Medal Winners

Women's Epee - Olympic Games Medal Winners

Women's Foil - Olympic Games Medal Winners

Women's Sabre - Olympic Games Medal Winners

CHAMPION BIOGRAPHIES

ALBERT AXELROD  -  United States

Born in New York City. Albert Axelrod is America's most enduring fencing champion. Ranked #1 in the United States in 1955, 1958, 1960 and 1970, and #2 nine times, his bronze medal in Individual Foil competition at the 1960 Olympic Games was only the fourth Olympic fencing medal ever won by an American. Axelrod was a member of five consecutive U.S. Olympic Teams--1952 through 1968--and was ranked in the U.S. Top Ten for 22 years--1942-1970--missing three of those years in military service. He was also a member of four United States World Championship teams and four U.S. Pan American Games teams, winning three Team gold and one silver medals, and four silver medals in Individual Foil.

RICHARD COHEN  - England

Five times Britain's saber champion, Richard Cohen was selected on four occasions to represent his country at the Olympic Games. He fought many great champions of the 1970s and 1980s, and as recently as 1997 he won the European championship for veterans.

CHRISTIAN D' ORIOLA  -  France

D’Oriola won his first championship in 1942, a local under-fifteen event. At  the time he trained three times a week for two hours at a time, a routine that hardly changed throughout his career. He had Olympic victory in 1952 and he won the world title in 1953 and 1954. By 1955 he had come in first six times and second once in his seven world championships - still a record. With the advent of the electric foil he adapted his style to compensate for the new weapon and during the Melbourne Games in 1956 he won all of his bouts with just seven hits against him. He had won in Melbourne, he said "only to prove that an able fencer could master the inartistic game," adding that "the electric foil is decadent fencing."  D’Oriola was noted for his extraordinary long and low lunge.

JANOS GARAY  -  Hungary

Janos Garay was World Sabre Champion in 1925, and won three Olympic medals for Hungary. Garay earned his first Olympic honors at the 1924 Games in Paris, where he won a silver medal in Team Sabre and a bronze in Individual Sabre. Four years later, he earned a gold medal in Team Sabre at the 1928 Olympics. In 1925, and again in 1930, Garay won the European Individual Sabre Championship. Garay perished in the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945, near the end of World War II.

LUCIEN GAUDIN   -  France (1886 - 1934)

Master and greatest ever practitioner of the French school of fencing. Known for unequaled poise, grace and skill. Fenced Aldo Nadi in a much publicized 20 point bout which lasted over 1 hour 20 minutes and won. While the margin was 11 to 20 Nadi was unhappy with the judging and it was agreed by some experts at the time that, at least, the margin was a lot closer. At the age of 41 Gaudin won back to back Olympic gold in both Epee and Foil.

OSZKAR GERDE  -  Hungary  (1883 - 1944)

Oszkar Gerde won gold medals in Team Sabre in both the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games. He later became a judge at international fencing competitions. Dr. Gerde perished in the concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria.

ALADAR GEREVICH  -  Hungary

Aladar Gerevich is the only athlete in any sport to win the same Olympic event six times. Indeed, he is the only athlete to earn gold medals in six different Olympics. Gerevich made his first Olympic appearance at the 1932 Los Angeles Games when he was 22 years old, earning his first gold medal as a member of Hungary's sabre team. Gerevich returned to the 1948 Olympics stronger than ever. Not only did he win another gold medal in the team sabre, he earned the gold medal in the individual sabre. At the 1952 Helsinki Games, Gerevich won gold in team sabre He made his final Olympic appearance at the 1960 Rome Games - at the age of 50 - earning yet another gold medal in the team sabre.

PAL GEREVICH  -  Hungary

He was part of the silver winning Hungarian Sabre team of '72 and '80.

SERGEI GOLUBITSKY  -  Ukraine

Sergei Golubitsky, was born in Kiev, Ukraine. He began fencing at the age of 9 and today is arguably one of the best men's foil fencers in history. At the time, he won more consecutive World Championships than anyone in history, has a record 19 World Cup tournament victories, countless silver and bonze World Cup tournament finishes, and is the 5 time World Cup Champion (season #1 points leader). For several seasons he trained world cup level senior and junior fencers in The Netherlands nd later in Conegliano, Italy. Career Highlights: 2000 Olympics: 5th Place (Australia), 1999 World Champion (Korea), World Cup Champion (end of season points leader), Super Masters: Gold Medal (Italy), 1998 World Champion (Switzerland), 1997 World Champion (South Africa), Universiade: Silver Medal (Italy), European Championships: Silver Medal (Poland), Awarded with Order of the President of the Ukraine, 1996 Olympics: 6th Place (USA), 1995 World Championships: Bronze Medal (Netherlands), European Champion (Hungary), 1994 World Cup Champion (end of season points leader), 1993 Universiade: Gold Medal (USA), World Championships: Silver Medal (Germany), World Cup Champion (end of season points leader), 1992 Olympics: Silver Medal (Spain), World Cup Champion (end of season points leader), 1991 Cup of the Ukraine: Gold Medal, Cup of the USSR: Gold Medal, 1990 World Championships: Bronze Medal by Team (France), European Cup: Gold Medal (France), 1989 World Champion by Team (USA), 1985 Cup of the Ukraine: Gold Medal.

AGESILO GRECO  -  Italy

A 1887 graduate of the Scuola Magistrale in Rome. His fencing style was based upon dueling technique. He was said to be gifted with marvelous power and originality in tactical approach. In 1903 he faced the great French champion Lucien Merignac in Buenos Aries before an audience of over four thousand.

AURELIO GRECO (1879 - 1954)  -  Italy

He debuted at the young age of 15 at the "Sala Umberto" of Rome at a lesson on the art of fencing. At the International Tournament of Bergamo in 1897, he won First Prize in the Artistic Classification, First Prize in the Foil contest and the "Special Prince of Naples Prize". He won over 180 contestants in the amateur category. At the International Master=s and Amateur=s Tournament of Ancona in 1900, he won First Prize in the Artistic Classification, First Prize in the Foil contest, Second Prize in the Saber and the final First Prize of the Academy. In this contest he was competing with 250 contestants from all over the world. He earned his Master of Fencing diploma at the Royal National Academy of Naples in 1902. Only 2 months after finishing his formal education at the age of 21, he participated in Turin at the professional games, and out of 320 foreign and Italian contestants, he "won" the First prize in Foil, the First Prize in Saber and the Special First Prize given by Princess Letizia di Savoia-Bonaparte, without ever once being touched. He ranked Number One in the Artistic Classification and First Prize in Foil at the National Championships held in Vercelli, Italy in 1902, out of 108 contestants participating. He also represented Italian fencing in Paris, France in 1902. In 1906, he participated at the Grand International Tournament at the World=s Fair in Milan. He won First Prize in the Foil, in the Artistic Competition and the Final First Academy Prize out of a group of 320 foreign and Italian contestants. He was at the National Exposition in Catania, where out of 150 contestants, he won first Prize in the Foil, First Prize in Saber and First Prize in the Artistic Classification. And now, let=s move on to the year 1922. In this year he withdrew from the glare of public admiration to dedicate himself - with his artistic spirit and peace-loving ways - to teaching school. In that same year he was challenged - in the press - by Master Carletti of Rome to a courtesy game of fencing, presided over by Master Carlo Pessina, one of the founders of the National Fencing Academy. The verdict saw him put his adversary to shame. After a long debate in the press he had to fight a duel against the very able Candido Sassone: this latter was wounded on the seventh assault. The match was called "the duel of the century" (1922). He published "The Sword and its Application" in Rome in 1907: a treatise on the TERRENO sword. The treatise was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Exposition of Social Hygiene, held in Rome in 1912.

JOHAN HARMENBERG  (1954 -       ) Sweden

Born in Stockholm. Johan Harmenberg won eight Individual and/or Team Epee gold medals in Olympic, World Championship, and World Cup competitions. He won his World Championship titles in Individual Epee and Team Epee events at the 1977 competitions. He also won a bronze medal in Team Epee at the 1979 World Championships. Harmenberg captured three Individual Epee World Cup championships within four years--1977, 1979, and 1980. He also won Team honors in 1977 and 1980. At the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the Swedish Epee master won a gold medal in Individual Epee.

ENDRE KABOS  (1906 - 1944) -  Hungary

World Individual Sabre Champion in 1933, 1934 and 1936 (Hungary won the Team Sabre titles in each of those years), Endre Kabos also won four Olympic medals, three of them gold. He earned his first Olympic gold medal in Team Sabre at the 1932 Games, as well as a bronze in Individual Sabre. At the Berlin Games in 1936, he won a pair of gold medals, one each in Individual and Team Sabre. Endre won either or both the European Individual and Team Sabre championship six times between 1931 and 1935, and was runner-up once. Following brief internment in a forced labor camp, Kabos was killed on the Margit Bridge during a World War II. He was driving across the bridge (between Buda and Pest) with an explosive-laden truck when a pipe bomb exploded.

RUDOLF KARPATI  (1921 - 1999)  - Hungary

Six-time Olympic champion and seven-time world champion fencer from Hungary. He was an Olympic champion in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960 as part of a team, and individually in 1956 and 1960. His world championships were in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, as part of the team and individual world champion in 1954 and 1959. He was a professional musicologist and wrote a lecture series on the relationship between music and fencing footwork.

JANOS KEVEY  (1907 -        )  -  Hungary

"Richter" was his family name at birth. In the early 1930's he studied law and fencing. He was universities champion in both foil and sabre. In Darmstadt he won sabre team gold. Later he served as a coach for the Budapest Military Academy and survived a duel. In 1940 he won the Hungarian epee championship. During the Second World War he served in the German military and was eventually imprisoned. During this time he reflected upon his sabre technique and decided upon a new method based on the idea of simple movements organized around the fleche. In February of 1952 he took a squad to Moscow to demonstrate his training methods. He was a dominating figure with white hair.

PAL KOVACS  (1936 -        )  -  Hungary

Born in Transylvania Winner of 7 Olympic Medals! Member of the Hungarian Sabre team that won gold at Berlin, London, Helsinki, Melbourne and Rome. He also won individual gold in '52, bronze in '48. He was World Sabre champion in 1937 and 1953. He later became president of the Hungarian Fencing Federation.

EDUARDO MANGIAROTTI  (1919 -       )  -  Italy 

Over an international career lasting twenty years he won six Olympic and thirteen world-championship golds. Then there were his thirteen silvers and seven bronzes. His thirty-nine medal tally makes him the most successful fencer in world history. Mangiarotti ws trained by his father Giuseppi who had studied under Italo Santelli. His weapons were Epee and Foil.

GIUSEPPE MANGIAROTTI  -  Italy

Epee Master who founded a fencing school which dominated international competition for nearly four decades. Studied under Italo Santelli in Hungary. Father of Eduardo Mangiarotti.

HELENE MAYER  (1910 – 1953)  -  Germany

Helene Mayer was only 13 when she won the German foil championship in 1924. At the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Mayer took the gold medal in the fencing event, winning 18 bouts and losing only two. In the same year, she also won the Italian national championship and by 1930 had been victorious six times in the German championships. World foil champion in 1929, 1931 and 1937, Helene Mayer came to Los Angeles in 1932 to compete in the Olympics (where she finished fifth in the individual foil). Learning that she had been expelled from her hometown Offenbach Fencing Club because of her Jewish blood, Mayer decided to stay in the United States. She enrolled at USC in 1933, earning a certificate in social work. Helene Mayer returned briefly to Germany 1936, to compete for her country in the Olympic Games at Berlin. She won a silver medal. After the ceremonies were over, she returned to the United States where she became an American citizen and won the US foil championships eight times in all - in 1934 - 5, 1937 - 9, 1941 - 2 and 1946. Mayer returned to the United States, and in 1937, she won the world championship in Paris, defeating Schacherer-Elek.Mayer returned to Germany in 1952 but died soon after of cancer.

MARK MIDLER  (1931 -            ) -  Russia

Born in Moscow a winner of two Olympic gold medals, Mark Midler also captured World Championship titles in the Foil event four consecutive years, l959-1962. Midler joined the Soviet Union National Fencing Team in l954, and was named captain for the l960 Olympic Games. Captain Midler=s team won a gold medal in Team Foil at those Rome Olympics. Four years later, at the Tokyo Games--again as captain--his Soviet team won their second consecutive Team Foil gold medal.

ARMAND MOUYAL  (1925 - 1988)  -  France

Born in Paris, Armand Mouyal won the World Individual Epee Championship in 1957. At the 1956 Olympic Games, he won a bronze medal in Team Epee. Mouyal, a French police officer, was ranked 5th in the World in 1955, and 8th in 1956. He also won several European championships.

ALDO NADI   (1899 - 1965)  -  Italy

Son of Maestro Beppe Nadi and brother to Nedo Nadi, also an Olympic fencing champion. Aldo Nadi was known as perhaps the greatest swordsman of all time, and is still considered so by many fencers. After a hugely successful European fencing career Nadi became a teacher of the art. He was the undefeated European champion for 12 years in a row and won a silver medal in the Olympics (his brother Nido won 5 gold medals in the same competition). He fought an actual duel with rapiers. His father fought against another highly experienced fencing master in a very famous "duel to the death". This was a true fencing family that spawned a number of famous fencing masters over several generations. He trained several national champions, including Janice Lee Romary who competed in four Olympics and carried our flag in the 1984 Olympics. Aldo was the ultimate perfectionist and a disciplinarian. Movements had to be absolutely perfect in order to get any form of compliment. In 1935 he moved to America and opened his own school in New York, then later moved to Los Angeles where he tried his hand at the movie business with some success. Like many of the greats, Nadi fenced and taught right until the day he died.

NEDO NADI  (1894 – 1940)  -  Italy

He was the most versatile fencer in history, uniquely winning an Olympic title with each of the three weapons at the same Games. In 1912, when he was only 18 years old, Nadi won the individual foil title and then, in 1920, he produced one of the greatest of all Olympic performances. First he helped Italy win the team foil title. Then he added the gold medal in the individual foil by winning 22 matches and losing only two. He won a gold medal in the team épée event in Antwerp. A few days later, Nadi also earned gold medals in the individual and team sabre for a record five fencing medals at the same Games.

VLADIMIR NAZLYMOV  -  Soviet Union & United States
Competing for the Soviet Union, Nazlymov was a three-time Olympic medalist (1968, 1976, 1980). He earned the Olympic silver medal in 1972 and 1976, while notching the Olympic bronze medal in 1972.  In addition to his numerous Olympic medals, Nazlymov also is a 10-time world champion. Eight of the championships were team titles, while two were individual crowns.  In recognition of his tremendous success, Nazlymov twice was named the world's best fencer by the International Fencing Federation.  Nazlymov also displayed his leadership abilities throughout his career. From 1970-80 Nazlymov served as the captain of the USSR Olympic Team.   After moving to the United States, Nazlymov captained the USA team at the World Championships from 1995-97 and at the 1995 and 1997 World University Games.  He is now the Head Coach for fencing at Ohio State University.

JERZY PAWLOWSKI  (1933 -         )  - Hungary

Polish Olympic fencer was a colonel of Polish intelligence. He approached and offered his services.Pawlowski was arrested in April 1974 and sentenced to prison for twenty-five years in 1975.10 years later Pawlowski was taken to Berlin and offered to be exchanged in Frankfurt for the Polish spy Marian Zacharski. Zacharski had been caught and imprisoned in the US.Pawlowski declined the offer to travel to the US. He was returned to Poland and released then.He began fencing at 16. He took his second world sabre title in 1965. He would give lessons with a sabre in each hand their blades moving so fast that even experienced onlookers could not follow the action.

ATTILA PETSCHAUER   (l904 - 1943)  -  Hungary

Born in Budapest, Attila Petschauer was a winner of three Olympic fencing medals, including two gold medals. The Hungarian champion won his first Olympic gold medal in Team Sabre, as well as a silver medal in Individual Sabre, at the l928 Games. At the 1932 Olympics, he again won gold medal honors in Team Sabre. Deported to a Nazi labor camp in the Ukrainian town of Davidovka, Petschauer was recognized by a camp officer, Lt. Col. Kalman Cseh, who had been an equestrian competitor for Hungary in the 1928 Olympics. The two had once been friends, but Cseh exhorted camp guards to taunt his one-time comrade. IJSHOF wrestling honoree Karoly Karpati was an inmate of the same camp and recalls: "The guards shouted: >You, Olympic fencing medal winner...let=s see how you can climb trees.= It was mid-winter and bitter cold, but they ordered him to undress, then climb a tree. The amused guards ordered him to crow like a rooster, and sprayed him with water. Frozen from the water, he died shortly after."

GYORGY JEKELFALUSSY PILLER  (1899-1960)  -  Hungary

Three time sabre world champion in the 1930's. His fencing philosophy was to "do one thing better than anyone else."   He is often considered the greatest sabre fencer of all time.

STANISLAV POZDNYAKOV  -  Russia
 
Olympic gold medalist, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, is one of Russia’s most proficient and most awarded saber fencers of modern times. He competed in five Olympic Games, winning the gold in four of them. Pozdnyakov won eleven European and seven world Fencing Championships.

MARK SEMENOVICH RAKITA  (1938 -         )  -  Soviet Union / Russia
 
Rakita started fencing at 14. He practiced daily for between three - six hours a day.  A 1969 graduate of The Daghestan State Pedagogical Institute, Rakita earned the title of Master of the Sport (Fencing) in 1964. He trained at the Armed Forces sports society.  Rakita was one of the Soviet Union's top sabre fencers in the 1960s. As a member of the Soviet National team, he won the world championship in the team sabre in 1965, 1967, 1969, and 1971.  Rakita was also the world champion in individual sabre in 1967, and finished second in 1970.  One of the best sabre fencers in the world in the 1960s, Rakita competed in 3 Olympiads for the Soviet Union.  At the 1964 Tokyo Games, he competed in both the individual and team events, and helped the Soviets capture the gold medal in the team competition.  Four years later at the 1968 Mexico City Games, Rakita returned to the Olympics and again competed in the individual and team sabre events. In the individual competition he captured the silver medal. In the team competition, the Soviets repeated as champions by defeating the Italians for the gold medal.  Rakita's final Olympic appearance occurred in 1972 at the Munich Games when he won his 4th Olympic medal.  Competing exclusively in the team event, Rakita and his teammates took the silver medal.

ITALO SANTELLI  (1866 - 1945)  -  Italy

Italo Santelli graduated from the famed Italian Scuola Magistrale. Teachers included Carlo Pessina and Guiseppi Radaelli, Pessina was also a student of Radaelli. It is widely thought that Santelli was Pessina's favorite student. In 1896 Santelli, now a full-fledged fencing master, left Italy and moved to Budapest where he had been invited to come and teach. Santelli improved on the Italian method and revolutioned saber fencing along with Luigi Barbasetti, with Santelli becoming recognized as the "Father of Modern Saber Fencing". His new method included a more flexible wrist, and more finger play to control the blade and hits, and it proved more effective than the established Italian method. Hungary welcomed the new method and began to dominate saber fencing for more than 50 years.

ARND SCHMITT  (1965 -           ) -  Germany

Epee, Singles - Masters Champion in 1986, World-Cup Champion in 1986 / 1987, Masters Champion in 1987, Gold medal in Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988, World-Cup Champion in 1990 / 1991, European Champion in 1996, World Champion in 1999, World-Cup Champion in 2000 - Team: World Champion in 1985 / 1986, Gold medal in Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, World Champion in 1995.

GILLIAN SHEEN  -  England

Britain's last - and only - fencing gold medallist was Gillian Sheen, who won the women's foil in Melbourne in 1956. Sheen learned to fence at school. A working dentist even as she went on to win the Empire title in Cardiff in 1958, she retired from fencing in 1963 and set up home with her four children and a successful practice in New York.

BELA DE TUSCAN  –  Hungary

One of the world's greatest sabre fencers. He once performed in an exhibition for Mussolini, who was a fencing enthusiast, and staged swordplay dancing routines at the London Palladium. He was a top fencer in the Hungarian Military Academy and narrowly escaped death after being caught in an unsuccessful revolution. He invented an electric weapon in which the electric wires were threaded through a hollow blade, but it failed to gain the approval of the F.I.E.

PETER WESTBROOK  (1952 -           )  -  United States

His mother bribed him with five dollars to take fencing and his talent and drive gained him a place on the 1976 Olympic Team. For more than twenty years he dominated sabre fencing in America and six Olympics and won the national title thirteen times.

FENCING HISTORY INDEX