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Thread: Fencing

  1. #166
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    Championnats du Monde in Wuxi China starting 7/19/2018

    Gene Ching
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  2. #167
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    Another nice Asian Games story

    Asian Games: Hong Kong fencer proposes to girlfriend after winning bronze; teammate cries after messing up the music



    The 31-year-old gets down on his knees at the Jakarta Convention Centre in front of media and fans and Nicole says ‘yes’

    PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 9:52am
    UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 3:41pm
    Nazvi Careem

    He may have won bronze on the piste but there was gold in love for Hong Kong fencer Antonio Lam Hin-chung when he got down on bended knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Nicole, in front of delighted media, officials and fans in Jakarta.

    Asian Games volunteers helped the 31-year-old Lam collect 99 roses that they made into a bouquet and as soon as the medal ceremony for the men’s team sabre competition ended, Lam proposed to Nicole – who had flown to Jakarta to watch her boyfriend of eight years compete.

    Of course, she said “yes” and Lam is now looking forward to the next phase in his life.

    “I am now double happy,” said Lam, who is expected to retire from competing and take up coaching. “There are many coaches in fencing but there are also many high-level athletes and I want to stay in the sport and help develop more fencers in Hong Kong.”

    Nicole said she knew she would be marrying a man who is dedicated to his sport and respects whatever decision he makes.

    “I know he can’t be separated from fencing and I know he wants to teach future fencers so I will support him.”


    Terence Lee crying and being consoled by a teammate. Photo: handout

    While there may have been tears of joy for the couple and possibly those watching, there were tears of another kind from Lam’s teammate Terence Lee Chak-fung, who was supposed to cue the love song A Little Happiness (“Little Lucky”) by Taiwanese singer Hebe Tian to create an appropriate atmosphere at the Jakarta Convention Centre.

    Apparently, Lee was a bit hasty and started the music early, spoiling the moment. He found it difficult to forgive himself and burst into tears as the couple posed for pictures.

    Chinese media showed Lam and Nicole sharing a kiss with Lee inconsolable just behind them clutching his Asian Games stuffed mascot.

    “I really messed it up because I put the music on too early. I had one thing to do and couldn’t do that properly,” Lee was quoted as saying.

    Lam started fencing in 2000 after being encouraged by his father. At the 2014 Incheon Games, he became the first Hong Kong fencer to win a medal in the men’s individual sabre when he took bronze.

    His sister, Lam Hin-wai, also represented Hong Kong in Incheon, winning a bronze in the women’s team sabre competition. She is part of the 2018 Asian Games team as well.

    Lam is a Hong Kong Sports Institute athlete and also manages a fencing hall.
    THREADS: Asian Games & Fencing
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  3. #168
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    Available ON DEMAND at Vimeo Sep 14, 2018, 12:00 AM ET. Pre-order now.



    The Last Captain
    from The Last Captain PRO on September 4, 2018

    Genres: Documentary, Sports
    Duration: 1 hour 33 minutes
    Availability: Worldwide
    George Piller was the top rated saber fencer of his time. He won world championships and gold medals at the Olympics. After he retired, he became one of the best fencing coaches in the world. His Hungarian saber teams were unbeaten for decades.

    Eventually, Piller came up against an opponent even too strong for him to defeat. In 1956, the USSR invaded Hungary to crush the Hungarian Uprising. Rather than submit, Piller escaped to the United States. He resumed his coaching career in San Francisco and started a revolution of his own in the United States fencing community.
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  4. #169
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    The Last Captain is now available for streaming on Vimeo and Amazon Prime.

    Gene Ching
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  5. #170
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    The Last Captain is now available for streaming on Vimeo and Amazon Prime.

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  6. #171
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    RIP Maestro George Kolombatovich

    George Kolombatovich, Fencing Coach at Columbia and the Met, Dies at 72


    George Kolombatovich in 1984. He spent 32 years as the head coach or co-head coach of the Columbia University fencing team.CreditCreditLarry C. Morris/The New York Times

    By Richard Sandomir
    Sept. 30, 2018

    George Kolombatovich, who coached Columbia University fencers to five N.C.A.A. championships and taught sword fighting to cast members of “Otello,” “Carmen” and “Don Giovanni” at the Metropolitan Opera, died on Sept. 19 in a hospital in Sarasota, Fla. He was 72.

    The cause was complications of pneumonia, principally acute respiratory distress syndrome, his family said.

    Mr. Kolombatovich — whose first lessons came from his father — spent 32 years as the head coach or co-head coach of the Columbia fencing team, many of them with Aladar Kogler. During that time, Columbia’s program became one of the country’s strongest: About 150 of its fencers became All-Americans, 17 won N.C.A.A. titles and several qualified for the Olympics, including Erinn Smart.

    The Columbia fencers thrived in New York City, long an epicenter of the sport in the United States.

    “Every single thing that counts as a disadvantage for Columbia football works in our favor,” Mr. Kolombatovich told The Associated Press in 1988, adding that it was much easier to recruit for fencing than for football at that Ivy League school. (The Columbia Lions have had a long history of futility on the football field.)

    “I only need two or three and I have a national championship program,” he said.

    Before and during his time at Columbia, Mr. Kolombatovich, an épée specialist (one of three weapons used in fencing), instructed singers at the Met in dueling onstage. With his father, Oscar, a Yugoslavian-born fencing master, and on his own, Mr. Kolombatovich designed the swordplay in numerous operas in the 1970s and ’80s. After his father retired as the Met’s fencing master — a part-time job — his son took over.

    “He and his father were the greatest fight experts in the business,” Fabrizio Melano, the stage director, said in a telephone interview.

    “Not only was George great at teaching people how to fight but also in how to integrate the fighting into the context of the opera,” added Mr. Melano, who directed “Otello” and “Roméo et Juliette” at the Met, and “Macbeth” at the Cincinnati Opera, with one or both Kolombatovichs on swashbuckling duty. “George and his father knew a lot about stage fighting but always insisted on safety. The swords were blunted but they were still made of steel.”


    Mr. Kolombatovich, right, with his brother, Richard, in the mid-1950s. Richard Kolombatovich went on to become the captain of the Harvard fencing team.
    Credit Kolombatovich Archive

    George Edward Kolombatovich was born in Flushing, Queens, on Aug. 29, 1946. His father was born in Split, in what is now Croatia, and taught fencing at the United States Military Academy at West Point, having been influenced after his immigration to the United States by acrobatic film swordsmen like Douglas Fairbanks Sr. His mother, Joan (Roke) Kolombatovich, was a schoolteacher and principal.

    For young George, a life in fencing appears to have been inevitable. Instruction from his father began when he was about 5.

    “He taught me only when I asked for lessons and they were very short,” he told Andy Shaw, the historian of USA Fencing, in a video interview in 2010. “After about a year-and-a-half of doing this, probably four or five times a week, he sent me to Giorgio Santelli” — who won a gold medal with the Italian team at the 1920 Olympics.

    George became a junior fencing champion on Long Island and a senior champion while in high school in Greenlawn. He attended New York University for two years and continued the sport during his Army service in Europe.

    “Even though it hurts my vanity, I must admit that George can beat me,” Oscar Kolombatovich told The New York Times in 1974.

    (Mr. Kolombatovich’s brother, Richard, was the captain of the fencing team at Harvard.)

    A back injury in a car accident cut short George’s competitive career; he began working at his father’s fencing academy in Centerport, N.Y., and at his small factory nearby in East Northport, which manufactured swords, daggers and armor for collectors, film and theater.

    And, in the late 1970s, he started coaching, at Huntington High School on Long Island and then at New York University.

    When Columbia hired him as assistant coach in 1978, The Daily News wrote — with his opera background in mind — that he had handled “such grudge matches as Cassio vs. Rodrigo in the Met’s ‘Otello,’ ” so Mr. Kolombatovich “should have little trouble getting the Lion fencers up for the Elis and Crimson.”


    Mr. Kolombatovich last year at his induction into the US Fencing Hall of Fame in Salt Lake City.Credit USA Fencing

    In addition to coaching the fencing team, Mr. Kolombatovich refereed around the world, including at three Olympics, and served on the officials’ committees of USA Fencing and the International Fencing Federation.

    One of his major achievements was to create a new grading system to judge referees in the United States.

    “George changed the system that was there, which had been cursory, and made it more complex and better,” Mr. Shaw, who is also a fencer and owner of the US Fencing Hall of Fame. “And he recruited people like me to train referees under the new system.”

    Mr. Kolombatovich’s international knowledge helped fencers like Ms. Smart, a graduate of Barnard, which has had a long affiliation with Columbia. She won a silver medal with the women’s foil team at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

    “He helped us balance our collegiate and international careers, which is a big part of fencing,” Ms. Smart said in a telephone interview.

    He is survived by his wife Henriette (Wilkens) Kolombatovich, who is known as Etta; two daughters, Gail Zelley and Erika Olinger; two sons, George O. and Glenn, and five grandchildren. His marriage to Sally Nygren ended in divorce.

    Mr. Kolombatovich retired from Columbia in 2011 but continued to be a referee and assign officials to tournaments. He was sanctioned by USA Fencing in 2015 and 2016 for an incident that involved yelling at a referee — “he had a volatile temper and sometimes blew up,” Mr. Shaw said — but was cleared in time to be inducted into the fencing hall of fame last year.

    Two days before the induction ceremony, he had a heart attack, but he showed up to accept the honor.

    A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 30, 2018, on Page B6 of the New York edition with the headline: George Kolombatovich, 72, a Specialist of Swordplay
    I never met Maestro Kolombatovich but I used to sell the swords that his, Maestro Oscar Kolombatovich, used to make when I worked for the Armoury. I still have a dao he made. It's top heavy. I regret never acquiring the jian he made - I had the chance but I didn't move on it.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #172
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    Emanuele Lambertini

    srsly? wheelchair slant eye? and a fencer too?

    12/14/2018 04:29 pm ET
    World Champion Fencer Under Fire For Racist ********** Gesture While In Japan
    Actor Jimmy O. Yang called on people to “take a stance against this.”
    By Kimberly Yam

    Not. This. Again.

    Emanuele Lambertini, a paralympic wheelchair fencer for Italy, shared a picture on Instagram Friday of himself making the ********** gesture often used to mock Asians.

    View image on Twitter



    Grace Lynn Kung

    @gracelynnkung
    Olympic level racism: 🏆#EmanueleLambertini #Olympics #italy #fencing #Tokyo2020

    124
    10:40 AM - Dec 14, 2018
    122 people are talking about this
    Twitter Ads info and privacy
    The picture, taken while in Japan for a competition, is accompanied by a caption which translates to “That’s how I feel after having eaten 🍣🍚🍜 for a week ... but at least it was worth it!” It has since been removed from Lambertini’s Instagram.

    Those of Asian descent were quick to call out the racism behind the post, flooding Lambertini’s account with criticisms. Jimmy O. Yang of “Silicon Valley” even posted about the photo on his own Instagram, urging people to “take a stance against this.”

    “This type of overt ignorance is absolutely unacceptable,” Yang said.

    Criticisms of Lambertini spilled over to other social media platforms as well, with Twitter users also pointing out the athlete’s offensive post.

    View image on Twitter



    Yushika
    @yushika97
    Meet Emanuele Lambertini
    Who posted this racist picture on instagram.
    Your a paralympic fencer and you in Japan who hosted you with all there hospitality.
    And this is how you thank them.
    With this racist picture
    SHAME on you!#EmanueleLambertini #Olympics #Tokyo2020 #paralympics

    31
    11:26 AM - Dec 14, 2018
    26 people are talking about this
    Twitter Ads info and privacy
    Lambertini, who took home a silver medal at the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Kyoto, has yet to respond to the backlash. HuffPost has reached out to the International Paralympic Committee for comment.


    Kimberly Yam
    Asian-American Affairs Reporter, HuffPost
    Gene Ching
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  8. #173
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    Our WINTER 2019 issue

    READ Kung Fu, Fencing and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do By Gene Ching in our WINTER 2019 issue. Available digitally too via Zinio.



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  9. #174
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    Congrats the the U.S. Women's Foil Team!

    U.S. Women’s Foil Team Earns First Ever World No. 1 Ranking with Silver in Poland, Kiefer Wins Individual Bronze
    01/15/2019, 4:36AM CSTBY NICOLE JOMANTAS


    Katowice Women's Foil World Cup silver medalists Iman Blow, Jackie Dubrovich, Nicole Ross and Lee Kiefer with Coach Buckie Leach. Photo Credit: Pavia / Bizzi

    (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – For the first time in history, the U.S. Women’s Foil Team reached the No. 1 position in the world rankings this weekend after a silver medal finish at the Katowice Women’s Foil World Cup in Poland.

    The honor capped off a double-medal weekend for Team USA with Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) earning bronze in the individual event on Saturday.

    Katowice Women’s Foil World Cup Results

    On Sunday, Kiefer joined with her 2012 Olympic teammate Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) and four-time Junior World medalists Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) and Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the team event.

    Kiefer and Ross were both returning members of the squad that won gold at the 2018 Senior World Championships and Team USA held a No. 3 seed going into the Katowice World Cup.

    After a bye into the table of 16, Team USA dominated its opening match against Great Britain, winning eight of nine bouts with Ross and Kiefer earning +11 and +10 indicators, respectively, and Dubrovich posting a +3 indicator as the team ended the match with a 45-21 victory.

    In the quarter-finals against Korea, Team USA held a two-touch lead at 12-10 after the third bout, but Ross changed the momentum of the match with a 8-2 win over Hye Mi Oh to give Team USA a 20-12 lead. Team USA went on to win four of the next five matches with Kiefer closing out the victory at 45-24 and Ross leading the squad with another +11 indicator.

    Team USA took on Russia, the 2016 Senior World Team Champions, in the semifinals. Led by World No. 1 and 2016 Olympic Champion Inna Deriglazova, the Russians held an 18-11 lead after the fourth bout. In the fifth, however, Kiefer dismantled Anastasiia Ivanova, scoring six straight touches in just over a minute to win the bout, 10-3, and tie the match at 21. Dubrovich bested three-time individual European Championships medalist Larisa Korobeynikova, 6-3, in the next bout to give Team USA a 27-24 lead. Ross split her bout with Ivanova at five touches each in the seventh and Blow subbed in for Dubrovich in the eighth against Deriglazova who brought the Russians into a 40-37 lead. In the anchor bout, Russia held a 42-39 lead in the first bout, but Kiefer remained calm and scored five straight to put Team USA up, 44-42. Korobeynikova scored once more, but Kiefer put up a one-light touch at the 90 second mark to seal the win for Team USA. Not only did Kiefer win the crucial bout, 8-3, but she ended the match at +13 overall.

    The Americans went on to fence France in the finals – a team that won bronze at the Senior Worlds in the midst of a run that included six straight medals going into the Katowice World Cup.

    All four U.S. team members competed in the final, but France controlled the match from the start and the Americans were unable to regain ground. With France holding a 40-19 lead after the eighth, Kiefer anchored against 2018 Senior World silver medalist Ysaora Thibus and earned seven touches, but Thibus closed strong with a 40-26 win for France.

    Team USA’s silver medal marks its third podium finish in the last four international tournaments, including gold medals at the 2018 Senior Worlds and Zonal Championships.

    Team USA took the World No. 1 position from Italy – a team that ended the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons as the Overall World Cup Champions.

    On Saturday, Kiefer earned her 10th individual career World Cup medal with a bronze medal finish that allowed her to retain the No. 3 position in the individual World Rankings.

    Exempt from pools, Kiefer fenced 2018 Senior World team silver medalist Chiara Cini (ITA) in the 64. Although Cini led the bout, 8-5, at the break, Kiefer went on a 10-2 run in the second to win the bout, 15-10.

    In the 32, Kiefer took a 13-9 lead over 2018 Junior World bronze medalist Eva Lacheray (FRA) after the first period before finishing with a 15-12 victory.

    Kiefer controlled the first period of her table of 16 bout against 2017 Senior World team bronze medalist Adelina Zagidullina (RUS), taking a 10-2 lead before finishing the period at 10-4. Kiefer gave up just two touches in the second period and ended with a 15-6 win.

    Kiefer would need a quarter-final win against 2013 Junior World medalist Francesca Palumbo (ITA) to guarantee a podium finish. Although Kiefer held a 10-6 lead after the second break, Palumbo soon pulled ahead to tie the bout at 10 in the third. The two exchanged touches with Kiefer pulling ahead at 13-12 in the final minute before Palumbo tied at 13. Kiefer scored again, however, with 4.56 seconds on the clock, to win the bout, 14-13.
    continued next post
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    Continued from previous post

    The win would be Palumbo’s second of the day against an American after she defeated 2018 Senior World Team Champion Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the 64. After taking a 6-3 lead in the second period, Palumbo went on a eight-touch run. Prescod couldn’t make up the lost ground and dropped the bout, 10-5.

    In the semifinals, Kiefer fenced Leonie Ebert (GER) – a 2015 Cadet World Champion who won the first of three senior international medals last year with a bronze at the Absolute Fencing Gear® FIE Grand Prix Anaheim. Ebert came out aggressively, scoring six straight on Kiefer who forced a comeback, coming within one of Ebert before the 2015 Junior World bronze medalist took the bout, 15-12.

    Kiefer, who has now won five international medals in the last 12 months, remains No. 3 in the World Rankings and is No. 1 in the USA Fencing Senior National Team Point Standings.

    Dubrovich and 16-year-old Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.) each earned top-32 results.

    After a 4-2 finish in pools, Dubrovich defeated Pia Ueltgesforth (GER), 15-3, and Gabriela Cecchini (BRA), 15-7, to qualify for the table of 64 where she fenced Ross for the first time in international competition.

    Ross lead the bout, 3-1, after the first and 5-4 after the second, but Dubrovich scored five straight to pull ahead at 9-5 in the third. Ross rushed to catch up in the final minute, but Dubrovich took the win, 12-7.

    In the 32, Dubrovich went on another run, scoring four straight against 2014 Senior World silver medalist Martina Batini (ITA) to take a 9-6 lead. The call was overturned, however and the score given to the Italian who followed with a five-touch run en route to ending the period with a 12-9 lead in Dubrovich. Batini would go on to finish the bout with a 15-12 victory.

    Dubrovich’s finish allowed her to remain No. 2 in the Senior National Team Point Standings behind Kiefer as she seeks to qualify for her first Senior World Team with Ross in third with Prescod in fourth.

    Weintraub went 4-2 in pools and defeated both her junior teammate, Ever Marinelli (San Francisco, Calif.), 15-8, and Karin Miyawaki (JPN), the 2018 Shanghai Grand Prix silver medalist, by a score of 15-12.

    In the 64, 2012 Olympic team bronze medalist Hee Sook Jeon (KOR) led the bout at 7-3 in the second before Weintraub took four straight touches to tie the score at seven at the end of the period. Weintraub controlled the third, however, outscoring Jeon, 8-3, to win the bout, 15-10.

    Weintraub’s run ended in the 32, however, with a 15-5 loss in the first period of her bout against 2014 Senior World medalist Martina Batini (ITA).

    Weintraub earned both junior and senior points with her first top-32 at a Senior World Cup, moving up to No. 5 in the Junior National Team Point Standings. The No. 3 cadet in the nation, Weintraub is aiming to qualify for both the junior and cadet teams this season.

    A member of the team that won the 2018 Senior World title, Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) returned to her first international event since having surgery in the fall.

    The two-time Senior World team medalist finished the pool rounds at 4-2 on Friday and defeated Mona Stephan (GER), 15-2, and Kata Kondricz (HUN), 15-12, to qualify for the second day.

    In the table of 64 on Saturday, Lu led No. 8 seed Svetlana Tripapina (RUS), 12-8, early in the third period, but the 2017 Senior World team bronze medalist fought back, scoring seven straight to take the bout, 15-12.

    Lu’s finish puts her sixth in the National Team Point Standings behind two-time NCAA medalist Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.) who holds the No. 5 position.

    Blow also advanced to the table of 64, finishing pool rounds at 5-1 and defeating Hye Mi Oh (KOR) to make the second day.

    In the 64, Blow led 2016 Junior World silver medalist Erica Cipressa (ITA), 6-4, before the Italian scored seven straight as she went on to close out the period at 12-8. In the third, Blow scored four, but Cipressa finished the match with a 15-12 win.

    Blow now sits as the No. 7 fencer in the Senior National Team Point Standings.

    May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.), a 2018 Cadet World silver medalist, earned her first top-64 result on the senior circuit.

    The 17 year old went 5-1 in pools and defeated Marie Duchesne (FRA), 15-12, in the preliminary table of 64.

    In a rematch of their 2018 Cadet World final, Tieu faced Yuka Ueno (JPN) in the 64. With the score tied at four after the first two periods, Tieu scored twice to open the third and held a 7-5 lead midway through the bout. Ueno scored twice in the last 70 seconds, however, to force an overtime period where she earned the first touch for an 8-7 win.

    Tieu remains No. 2 in the Junior National Team Point Standings as one of four returning members of the 2018 Junior World Team who ended the season No. 1 in the world as the reigning Junior World Team Champions.

    Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

    Katowice Women’s Team Foil World Cup
    1. France
    2. USA
    3. Italy
    4. Russia
    5. Germany
    6. Canada
    7. Poland
    8. Korea

    Katowice Women’s Individual Foil World Cup
    1. Inna Deriglazova (RUS)
    2. Leonie Ebert (GER)
    3. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
    3. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
    5. Pauline Ranvier (FRA)
    6. Larisa Korobeynikova (RUS)
    7. Anastasiia Ivanova (RUS)
    8. Francesca Palumbo (ITA)

    29. Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    30. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.)
    35. Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)
    36. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
    45. May Tieu (Belle Mead, N.J.)
    47. Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
    58. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
    67. Delphine Devore (Westport, Conn.)
    104. Madison Zeiss (Culver City, Calif.)
    133. Ever Marinelli (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Making history.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #176
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    Our latest sweepstakes. ENTER TO WIN!

    Enter to win KungFuMagazine.com's contest for THE LAST CAPTAIN on DVD! Contest ends 5:30 p.m. PST on 1/31/2019.



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  12. #177
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    Our winners are announced

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  13. #178
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    Nike - Stop At Nothing

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  14. #179
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    1936 Berlin Olympics



    WHEN JEWS RULED THE FENCING WORLD
    Jewish athletes have won more Olympic medals for fencing than for any other sport
    By Robert Rockaway
    January 29, 2019 • 12:00 AM

    At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the women’s fencing medal ceremony witnessed three medal winners with Jewish backgrounds. Ilona Elek, a Hungarian, won the gold medal. Helene Mayer, a German, won the silver. And Ellen Muller-Preis, an Austrian, won bronze. All of them stood together atop the medal platform. It should be noted that all three women were half-Jewish and none of them considered themselves Jewish. This denial made no difference to the Nazis, however, who deemed them to be Jewish. A photograph of the ceremony shows Mayer, the silver medal winner, standing on the podium and giving the Nazi salute.

    Mayer’s bizarre gesture created consternation and a great deal of comment. She was born in 1910 to a Jewish father and a Lutheran mother. Although her physician father was active in Jewish organizations, Helene and her two brothers were raised in a secular home and she attended a Christian school. Before Hitler’s coming to power, Mayer had been one of Germany’s most beloved athletes. She won her first German foil championship in 1924 when she was 13. By 1930, she had won six German championships. She won a gold medal in fencing at the age of 17 at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Representing Germany, she won 18 bouts and lost only two. Attractive and vivacious, she was a fencing star and Germany’s most dazzling athlete.

    Mayer’s father died in 1931 and her mother and brothers remained in Germany. After she competed for Germany in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics—finishing in fifth place—she decided to stay in California as an exchange student at Scripps College. When Hitler came to power, her exchange was terminated, as was her membership in her hometown fencing club. Returning home to Germany seemed impossible, so she finished her studies at Scripps and took a job teaching German at Mills College in Oakland, California, where she could also continue fencing. Nonetheless, she accepted an invitation to compete for Germany in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. This was arranged by Avery Brundage, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He convinced Germany to let one German-Jewish athlete onto the German team to quiet American calls for a U.S. boycott of the games. (According to German law, Mayer was a mischling, a German of mixed Jewish and Aryan blood.) Mayer was the only German athlete from a Jewish background to win a medal that year.

    Despite winning a medal, she was not celebrated on her return to Germany. The Nazi government barely tolerated her. Joseph Goebbels, the government’s minister of propaganda, instructed the German press not to make any comments regarding Mayer’s non-Aryan ancestry. After the 1936 games, she never competed in the Olympics again. She returned to the United States and became a citizen in 1940. She won the U.S. women’s foil championship six times from 1937 to 1946. She was also world foil champion in 1937.

    Mayer moved back to Germany in 1952 and married an old friend. She died of breast cancer in 1953. She was inducted into the United States Fencing Association Hall of Fame posthumously in 1963. In 2000, Sports Illustrated named her the greatest fencer of the 20th century.

    *

    American Jews generally have heard about Jewish-American athletes such as Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg in baseball, Sid Luckman and Benny Friedman in football, and Benny Leonard and Barney Ross in boxing. But they know practically nothing about the history of outstanding European Jewish athletes before WWII. Jewish Olympic fencers brought their home countries fame and international recognition, and brought honor to themselves and the Jewish people.

    Young Jews have always viewed participating in sports as a means of integrating and gaining acceptance among their non-Jewish peers and within the larger society. This held true for Jewish university students in Germany, Austria, and Hungary during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Only there, fencing and dueling with swords became the Jewish students’ sports of choice. They did so because fencing was considered a path to climb the social ladder. In addition, dueling against non-Jews was a way for Jews to show their mettle and offered a means to defend Jewish honor, especially in a time of rising anti-Semitism.

    Even Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, enthused about fencing. As a journalist, Herzl wrote articles about fencing duels between Jews and French anti-Semites in the late 19th century. Herzl himself once offered to duel a Viennese anti-Semite. He was not bluffing. As a child, he had been trained to use a sword and fought a duel as part of his initiation into Albia, a German student dueling fraternity. Herzl believed that “a half dozen duels would very much raise the social position of Jews.”

    Because of widespread anti-Semitism in Europe, Jewish students were excluded from many university fraternities and athletic associations. Consequently, they created fraternities and sporting clubs of their own. Their dueling frequently took place within the confines of the Jewish environment. But once they engaged in competition with non-Jews, they achieved a reputation as fierce duelists. As a consequence of their ability and competitiveness, numbers of Jewish fencers became champions in their countries and in the Olympics. Olympic fencing competition was a means by which young Jews could express their patriotism and love of country and a way to show the world that Jews could compete with non-Jews at the highest level and win. In fact, Jewish athletes have won more Olympic medals for fencing than for any other sport.

    The first Jewish fencing Olympic medal winner was Siegfried “Fritz” Flesch (1872-1939), who fenced for Austria. He won a bronze medal in the saber competition at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. His was the first of 35 Olympic fencing medals, 17 of them gold, won by Jewish fencers from 1900 to 1936.

    The next Jewish Olympic medal for fencing was won by an Englishman, Edgar Seligman (1867-1958). Seligman was born in San Francisco to German parents. After his parents moved to London, he became a naturalized British citizen. A talented artist by profession, he competed in five Olympic Games as a member of the British fencing team. He was the only man to win the British fencing championship in three fencing divisions: the epee in 1904 and 1906; the foil in 1906 and 1907; and the saber in 1923 and 1924. He first competed in the 1906 Intercalated Games, held in Athens to renew interest in the Olympic Games. The British team won the silver medal. Seligman competed again in the 1908 Olympic Games in London, where he and his teammates won the silver medal in the team epee competition. Four years later, Seligman captained the British fencing team at the Stockholm Olympics. He competed in three events and won another silver medal in the team epee competition. Although Seligman competed in four more Olympics—1920, 1924, 1928, and 1932—he never won another medal.

    Hungarians had always taken pride in being descended from saber-wielding mounted warriors. For a Jew to become a saber champion was to fulfill a fantasy of acceptance. The first Hungarian Olympic champions were Jews who excelled in saber fencing, the most Hungarian of martial arts. In the 1908 London Olympic Games, four Hungarian-Jewish fencers—Dezso Foldes, Jeno Fuchs, Oskar Gerde, and Lajos Werkner—won a gold medal in the team saber competition. Fuchs also won a gold medal in the individual saber competition. He became the first Hungarian Olympic champion in fencing. In addition to his gold medals, Fuchs (1882-1955) won 22 individual matches in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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    Continued from previous post


    Edgar Seligman (right) (Photo courtesy Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports Archives)

    In the 1908 Olympics, two French Jews, Alexandre Lippmann and Jean Stern, won the gold medal for the team epee competition. In the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Foldes, Fuchs, Gerde, and Werkner once more won team gold medals for the fencing and team saber events. Fuchs won a gold medal in the individual saber competition and Werkner won a gold medal in the fencing competition. Two Belgian Jews, Gaston Salmon and Jacques Ochs, won gold medals for the fencing and team epee competition. Albert Bogen of Austria won a silver medal for the fencing and team saber competition, Ivan Osiier of Denmark won a silver medal for the individual epee competition. Otto Herschmann of Austria won a silver medal for the fencing and team saber competition.

    After WWI, fencing became almost an obsession among Hungarian Jews. From 1920 to 1936, Hungarian-Jewish fencers won 11 Olympic medals. The Hungarian-Jewish prominence resulted from a number of factors. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had suffered defeat in the war. As a consequence, Hungary lost almost two-thirds of its territory and more than half its population. Before the war, the nation’s population numbered over 18 million. In 1920, the population of the new Hungary numbered 8 million. Before the war, the Jewish population numbered 911,227. After the war it numbered 473,000. And beginning in 1920 violent anti-Semitism erupted in Hungary and it became the first country in Eastern Europe to introduce anti-Jewish legislation: a 1920 quota on Jews in universities. This new situation spurred Jews to show their courage and display their loyalty and patriotism to the new Hungary. Fencing became their way to do so.

    Hungarians associated the sport of fencing with courage, virility, masculinity, and honor. Since Jews sought to exemplify these qualities, they took to fencing and dueling with swords with unprecedented zeal. Fencing became almost an obsession among Hungarian Jews and became a key part of their efforts to identify with and be accepted by the country’s ruling classes. The victories of Jewish fencers in the Olympics provided the Jewish community with pride and served as a means to prove its courage and valor to the Hungarian public. The Hungarian-Jewish press regularly articulated the contributions of Jews to Hungary, giving special attention to Jewish victories in the Olympics. Hungary’s non-Jewish press also noted the Jewish victories and lauded the Jewish champions as representatives of the Magyar virtues of physical agility and power. Many Jewish journalists wrote for Hungary’s newspapers, so they likely were among the most vociferous of those who praised the Jews.

    In the 1928 Amsterdam games, three Hungarian Jews—Janos Garay, Sandor Gombos, and Attila Petschauer—won gold medals for the team saber competition. Petschauer also won a silver medal for the individual saber competition. In the 1932 Lake Placid and Los Angeles games, Petschauer and Endre Kabos of Hungary won gold medals for the team saber competition. Kabos also won a bronze medal for the individual saber competition. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Kabos won gold medals for individual saber and team saber competitions. In those games, the three female fencing medal winners and Kabos, all of whom had Jewish backgrounds, took home five of the eight fencing medals.

    Kabos was fully conscious of the symbolism of competing in the capital of the Third Reich. Before the games, he wrote an article in the Hungarian-Jewish newspaper Egyenloseg (Equality), in which he said that Jewish athletes have a psychological handicap. “We will go to a place to demonstrate our strength and ability where our Jewish brothers are considered another race, not humans created by God, even harmful, and they get a treatment according to this painful perception.” He concluded by saying that the Hungarian-Jewish Olympians “will fight not only for universal Hungarian nationhood and Hungarian pride in Berlin but we, Jewish sportsmen, must and want to show the image of Jewish power and virtue.”

    *

    Five Hungarian-Jewish Olympic champions did not survive the war. Lajos Werkner died in Budapest in November 1943 at the age of 60. Oscar Gerde died in the Budapest ghetto in October 1944. Janos Garay, who won a gold medal in the team saber in the 1918 Amsterdam Olympics and a silver medal for team saber at the 1924 Olympics, was deported and murdered in the Mauthausen concentration camp.

    The Hungarian gold medalists Attila Petschauer and Endre Kabos suffered similar fates. Petschauer was born in Hungary in 1904 and was a fencing prodigy before his teen years. His father named him Attila after Attila the Hun, an intrinsically gentile name. In the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, he won a silver medal in the individual competition and a gold medal in the team saber event, winning all 20 of his matches. When the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, Petschauer was deported to a labor camp in the Ukrainian town of Davidovka. During a lineup of prisoners, he was recognized by a military officer who had been his friend in Hungary. This did not save him. His former friend instructed the guards to taunt Petschauer. The guards shouted: “You, Olympic fencing medal winner, let’s see if you can climb trees.” It was midwinter and bitter cold, but the guards ordered him to undress then climb a tree. The amused guards ordered him to crow like a rooster and sprayed him with cold water. Covered with ice from the water, Petschauer froze to death. His life and death were dramatized in the 1999 film Sunshine, starring Ralph Fiennes.


    From left: Endre Kabos, Attila Petschauer, Helene Mayer (Photos: Wikipedia)

    Endre Kabos (1906-1944) was born in Hungary. He began fencing as a youngster after he received a fencing outfit as a birthday present. By the 1930s he had become one of the world’s greatest fencers. In addition to his four Olympic gold medals, he won multiple gold medals as an individual and as part of Hungarian teams in European fencing competitions. During WWII he was interned in a general labor camp. In June 1944 he was sent to a labor camp for Jews. He also taught some German army officers the use of saber fencing. He later was transferred to Budapest where he transported food and provisions for prisoners in the camps. On Nov. 4, 1944, he was on a bridge that German soldiers were preparing to blow up to prevent it from being used by the advancing Red Army. He was killed when a munitions truck he was driving exploded as a result of a pipe bomb. In 1986, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

    Dezso Foldes (1880-1950) was the only Hungarian-Jewish Olympic champion who survived the war. After the 1912 Olympics he left Hungary for the United States. He opened a medical clinic for the poor in Cleveland, Ohio. He died in Cleveland in 1950.

    The Hungarian-Jewish fencers loved Hungary. They believed that their victories in the Olympics brought honor and glory to their homeland. In the end, their Olympic medals and achievements did not save them. They suffered the same fate as other Jews.
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