Born in Saxony, Erich Funke, the d’Egnuff coming later, emigrated to New York in the years after World War One. Once there, he began trained as a fencing assistant coach under Anthony Greco, who may or may not be a direct relation of the famous Italian fencing family of Grecos. In about 1933, he moved to San Francisco and opened the Funke Fencing Academy which changed locations many times but ran continuously until Funke’s death in 1965.
Funke’s salle was the first San Francisco club frequented by Helene Mayer when she moved to the Bay Area. She and Funke had met in New York when she was on her way to Los Angeles for the 1932 Olympic Games.READ MORE...
A generous soul, Funke assisted other fencing master – essentially competitors – in establishing their own reputations.
In 1940 he gave space to the penniless Hans Halberstadt to begin teaching prior to opening his own salle d’armes and did the same in 1957 for George Piller prior to the opening of Pannonia Athletic Club. Particularly in his early years in San Francisco, Funke was a master at getting stories and photos of fencers into the local newspapers. This Archive is fortunate to have his scrapbook from this period, and it is chock full of wonderful articles promoting this or that event in the area.
Fear. It’s a motivator for me. Not the average, everyday kind of fear, nor an amorphous fear of zombies or clowns. Rather, the fear of loss. A very specific kind of loss.
The woman to beware of is, as mentioned, the great Helene Mayer. To say that her competitive record is impressive is an understatement.
Regular readers will be familiar with the many tales told herein of Charles Selberg, himself a graduate of SF State (BA ’57, MA ’60). Selberg had his fencing beginnings at SF State under the tutelage of Erich Funke.
Helene Mayer was a German fencer who first distinguished herself as German national champion at the age of 13. By 19, she had won Olympic gold (1928) and the first of three world championships. After the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, she remained in the US, studied at...
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