New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Fencing

Julia Jones Pugliese

Julia Jones Pugliese (Fencing.  Born, New York, NY, May 9, 1908; died, New York, NY, Mar. 6, 1993.)  It may be that Julia Jones-Pugliese was destined to be a fencer. If not, destiny took a real beating.  After taking up the sport in 1927, she became one of the leading American women fencers and coaches.  Jones-Pugliese began fencing while an undergraduate at New York University’s Washington Square College and within two years had risen to the rank of national champion.  She won the championship of the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association that year and two years after that, in 1931, she became N.Y.U.’s women’s fencing coach.  She coached the N.Y.U. women for 13 years and continued to compete during most of that period.  In 1931, she was the national junior champion, earning her a promotion to the top rank of women fencers in the U.S.  Following her marriage, she moved to Alabama during World War II, returning after V-J Day in 1945.  From 1956, Pugliese was the head fencing coach at Manhattan’s Hunter College (both men and women) and was also an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education.  She was involved in training and coaching at several levels, serving on the staff at the U.S. Olympic Training Camp in 1964, 1965 and 1967, preparing American fencers.  In 1970, she achieved another of her many “firsts,” being the first woman to represent USA Fencing as a coach at an international tournament (in Tokyo).

Giorgio Santelli

Giorgio Santelli (Fencing.  Born, Florence, Italy, Nov. 25, 1897; died, Teaneck, NJ, Oct. 8, 1985.)  Giorgio Santelli wound up in the United States because his father couldn’t be bothered to make the trip. In 1928, Italo Santelli was invited to become the fencing coach of New York Athletic Club in association with James Murray.  He decided to send his son who had been a member of the 1920 Italian Olympic gold medal team.  Thus, Giorgio Santelli became one of the leading fencing coaches in the U.S., serving not only at the N.Y.A.C., but also the New York Fencers Club and the University Fencers Club.  In addition, he founded the George Santelli Fencing Equipment Co., one of the largest suppliers of fencing gear in the country. Santelli’s father, who became coach of the Hungarian Olympic team in the 1920s, was credited with revolutionizing the technique in saber. Indeed, Santelli the younger was widely praised for his saber technique in the 1920 Olympics. The Olympic tradition continued for Santelli, who coached the U.S. teams in five straight Olympic Games:  1928, 1932, 1936, 1948 and 1952. Santelli also founded a private school for fencers, Salle Santelli, in Greenwich Village that served as headquarters for dozens of outstanding American fencers and Olympic aspirants. He also brought a perspective, unique at the time, to the sport in that he coached all talented fencers regardless of their race or ethnic background.  This opened the way for black fencers in particular, as did his program of conducting free fencing classes in New York schools.  In his younger days, he had been the champion fencer in both Hungary and Austria, being acclaimed as one of the great masters of the sport.

Bruce Soriano

Bruce Soriano (Fencing.  Born, Newark, NJ, April 30, 1950.)  Perhaps the most dominating man in his weapon ever in the N.C.A.A. fencing championships, Columbia’s Bruce Soriano became the first fencer in tournament history to win the national title three straight years in any weapon.  Soriano captured the sabre championship in 1970, 1971, and 1972, moving through the tournament in Chicago, Ill., with a 22-1 record in his senior year.  In 1971, he helped Columbia tie (with N.Y.U.) for the national team championship.  That year, Soriano was 26-3 for the 9-1 Lions during the regular season and I.F.A. sabre champion.  He began fencing at Essex Catholic H.S. in New Jersey, where he was a three-letter winner and state champion (1968).  Soriano also won the Michigan State “Sabreur of the Year” trophy three times.

Maria Cerra Tishman

(Fencing.  Born, New York, May 17, 1918; died, Paramus, NJ, Jan. 24, 2015.)  Born into a fencing family, Maria Cerra began participating in the sport at age nine. She fenced for Hunter College and was a nine-time member of the Amateur Fencers League of America (AFLA) national championship foil team from 1935-47.  She won the U.S. national individual championship in the foil in 1945.  At the 1948 London Olympic Games, Cerra finished in a three-way tie for second, only two touches away from the gold medal.  After tie-breaking procedures were applied, she wound up fourth.  For the rest of her life, no American woman matched her Olympic finish.  Following the Games, she married epee fencer Peter Tishman.  For more than 60 years after retiring from competition in 1948, Tishman dedicated herself to fencing.  She served as the first woman on the U.S. Olympic Fencing Committee.  During her tenure, Tishman established an international selection system for U.S. teams based exclusively on earned points.  In addition to promoting fencing throughout the U.S., she worked as an elementary school teacher in New Jersey and retired there in 1984.  In her later years, Tishman officiated at New Jersey high school dual meets around the northeast part of the state.  Tishman was in the inaugural class of 18 inductees to the U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame in 1963. – By Zhizhou Ye

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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