The Sport For All Ages
by Jack Keane
Fencing makes a new man of AI Vogt at 71 .
Reverse the numerals of Steve Renshaw's age, 17, and you have Al Vogt's.
Interestingly, that is not an unusual spread of years for competitors in the sport of fencing. Perhaps, then, it comes closest to qualifying as a truly ageless sport.Something a man who wants the value of a workout or the thrill of competition can enjoy equally.
Al has been a member of the New York A.C. since 1944, joining from the former illustrious French YMCA which moved downtown to Chelsea from its location near the Ziegfeld Theatre. Steve is a high school youngster out of Wayne, New Jersey, who carne to the club last year as a Junior Member to take advantage of the .Club's great fencing program. The same lure drew AI Vogt over three decades ago and has held him here since.On First NYU Team
As an undergraduate at New York University, where he majored in Civil Engineering, he had fenced on NYU's first intercollegiate team in 1924 . He became Captain the following year and, in 1927, was instrumental in bringing the legendary Julio "Papa" Castello into the NYU picture. From that moment on, NYU was to compile the greatest record ever in the history of intercollegiate fencing.
"We weren't quite so good in my time in school," Al confesses. "Although I did place fifth in my senior year of 1927. That, incidentally was the same year Dernell Every, later another club member, won the first of his two intercollegiate championships. Later, he became a three-time Olympian and led the NYAC to many national titles. "
AI, himself never achieved any major crowns, coming closest when he placed fourth as a finalist in the (in those days) powerful junior championships. "It would have been nice to have won but winning isn't the only thing you get out of fencing.”
Al declares that one of those benefit s is the chance to meet great people who become life-long friends. "I've had the pleasure of fencing or practicing with the likes of Every, Silvio Giolito, Warren Dow, Nick Muray, Leo Nunes, all club members and all national Olympic champions, and everyone a gentleman. That's important in sport. "
Al also feels that fencing does things for his personal sense of well being. "In my field there's quite a lot of tension day in and day out. That's why I've made it my practice to come to the club at least once a week to work out. After a couple of hours I feel like a new man."
Also feeling pretty good these days is Stevie Renshaw. After a season of hard work under the hand of Coach Csaba Elthes, the youngster placed fourth in Junior National Championships in saber. More recently he has continued his winning ways, capturing the New Jersey High School championships in December. An excellent student, Steve is being eyed by a goodly number of colleges for scholarships. 'To me fencing is the most highly individual sport. It's you against somebody else and you can't make any excuses. At the same time you are part of a team, so you can't let them down either. I was in gymnastics and liked it a lot, but obviously I prefer fencing more. I prefer it here best of all because of the good coaching and all the good help from the older fencers." (When you're seventeen, everybody is older. Damrnit. )
If you've always wondered what it was like to fence, why not come down to the fourth floor fencing room and give it a go. We have two excellent masters and we meet every day of the week except Friday and Sunday. And don't ask if you're too old to start. Remember, fencing is the ageless sport.