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

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.

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1 Comment to Giorgio Santelli

  1. December 22, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Hello,
    every website I read gives Budapest/Hungary as Maestro Santelli’s birth place.
    You place it in Florence, how come?
    Thank you Umberto

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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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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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