Born and raised in San Francisco, Gerard “Jerry” Biagini began fencing in the mid-1930s at the Unione Sportiva Italiana under the tutelage of Edward Visconti. He was later trained by both Hans Halberstadt and George Piller.
A multi-weapon fencer, he was first alternate for the 1960 Olympic sabre squad and a finalist in Men’s foil. He also helped the Pannonia Athletic Club to the National Sabre Team title in 1962, along with teammates Dan Magay, Alex Orban and Jack Baker. Biagini was instrumental in creating and maintaining a San Francisco High School fencing league that continues today.
The Latin meaning of that, according to Google Translate, is “Wine of the Spirit”. As a philistine in the ways of Latin, I’ll have to accept it. No clue. Truly.
A number of people over the years have done impersonations of the inimitable Hans Halberstadt and they range wide in both style and substance. Charlie Selberg knew Hans well and would often quote him during fencing lectures or footwork drills.
I love running across old photos of fencers. It doesn’t matter who’s in them or what condition they’re in for me to be fascinated with the discovery and the challenge of putting names to faces.
At some point I will outgrown my available storage. It’s not in any way imminent, but down the road it will be something to deal with. Storage space wasn’t a consideration when I began to purchase relatively low cost university annuals on Ebay.
There is nothing in the world quite like Jerry Biagini’s greeting to me when I visited him about two weeks ago. Me: “Mr. Biagini, how are you?” Jerry: “I’m 90 years old and cranky!”
In the woods of Southern Oregon off a dirt road and across a valley from the winding I-5 was a fencing salle d’armes built by Charlie Selberg in an old barn. It was stuffed to the rafters with fencing memorabilia dating back decades.
Typically, US National Foil Champions are reasonably well documented, particularly in their home town. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Alfred R. Snyder, 1944 US foil champion.
As a member of the Hall of Fame committee for USA Fencing, I get a chance to participate in the annual ritual of determining, in the fairest way possible, who is to be considered for inclusion into that prestigious body. But in the long run, just like every member of USA Fencing, I only get one vote.
Some months ago, I paid a visit to UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library to look at a collection of scrapbooks donated to the library upon the passing of long-time Cal fencing master Julius Palffy-Alpar. Harold Hayes of the Pacific Fencing Club had told me of their existence and agreed to meet me there to get a look at the books.
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