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TBT 3/16: Big Red Fencers Defeat Penn


On March 16th, 1930, the Cornell Men’s Fencing team handedly defeated the University of Pennsylvania by a score of 12-5. This effort was led by the Cornell Captain, Irving Cantor, who defeated Penn’s own captain in the foils event 5-2 in their match. He also swept another Penn fencer in the saber event 5-0. Continuing his hot streak, Cantor finished his day by defeating yet another Penn fencer with a saber. Inspired by his captain’s excellent performance, F.A. Gravino also defeated three Penn fencers in the foil events.

Gravino also had the longest match of the day, of which he emerged victorious. He also broke even in his two epee matches.  Another Big Red Fencer, Martinez, used his skills from varsity football to decimate his opponent with strikes so forceful that parts of his saber fell off. While these three men secured the victory for Cornell, the rest of the matches during that day were close. Penn was able to win 2 points in the foil and epee events while also gaining one win with the sabers. This match could be seen as the potential for what this team could become.

When Georges Cointe became head coach later in the decade, he took this team and helped them live up to their full potential. Over his 27 years as head coach, he won numerous accolades for Cornell, such as winning the three-weapon championship of the Intercollegiate Fencing Association in 1955. Coach Cointe also went on to train the 1956 Olympic team, in which one of his pupils, Richard Pew, won fourth place in the epee event. The Cornell fencing team has had a long history, full of ups and downs, but under Coach Cointe they were truly at their best,

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