Andy Shaw – US Fencing Historian

Andy Shaw – US Fencing Historian / US Fencing Coaches Association Historian / Chairman US Fencing Hall of Fame

 Andy with two of his students

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Born in midtown Manhattan in 1950, Shaw lived next door to fencing Olympian Edward Vebell. Vebell asked Csaba Elthes, who had just begun teaching at Giorgio Santelli’s club in Greenwich Village, if he would be willing to take on a young boy. Csaba gave the 8-year-old a few trial lessons – if Andy showed competitive talent, he would keep him – and the rest is history. Shaw trained with Elthes US Olympic Coach 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980,1984) for a few years. Giorgio Santelli invited Andy, to train with him when Elthes decided to move to the NY Fencers’ Club. Santelli had won the Olympic Gold medal for the Italians on their sabre team. After he emigrated to the US he was the US Olympic Coach in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952.

Shaw was invited to join the Santelli fencing team in 1964 at the age of 14. During his high school years, Shaw reached some rarely achieved fencing heights:

* Finalist in NY Metropolitan Division Men’s Foil Championships in which 22 foil fencers with A ratings competed.
* Formally invited to compete at the US Men’s Foil Olympic Trials.
* #2 ranked high school foil fencer in the US
* Ranked 19th in final points toward the US Olympic Men’s Fencing Team      (only 1 other H.S. student had points)
* 1 of only 3 American high school foil fencers to be invited to represent the US at the Martini & Rossi International Fencing Tournament in New York City.

In his senior year of high school, Andy was the New York Junior Olympic Foil Champion  (this was before the US Junior Olympics existed) and after being offered 5 fencing scholarships, accepted Temple University’s offer.

While at Temple, Shaw led the “Owls” to 4 consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference titles, was the captain of the team in his junior and senior years, led the nation in wins/losses in 1971 with a 35-1 record with only 41 hits received, took 8th in the NCAA’s in 1971, won the MVP for the Temple University Fencing Team in 1972, and was the recipient of the Outstanding College Athletes of America Award.Shaw began teaching fencing professionally at Broward County Community College in 1973 where he also worked in the Drama Department heading a Stage Combat course.  In 1975, he founded the Atlanta Fencers’ Club and coached the Georgia Tech Fencing Team.

Family matters brought Andy back to New York City in 1977 where he became a talent agent for actors working in commercials. It was during this ten-year period that Shaw got seriously involved in officiating when his mentor and friend Maurice Kamhi induced him to come to West Point for a competition. Shaw agreed to be assigned to tournaments from then on – sometimes refereeing 60 meets a year in between going to plays and conducting training seminars for actors.  He traveled to University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Vassar and Cornell on a regular basis.  By the mid 1980’s Andy was being flown around the United States to teach officiating in places such as Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Utah and he was utilized in countless final rounds in our men’s and women’s US national championships as well as the finals of the NCAA’s.  By the 1990’s, Shaw was the best-known and most-utilized fencing official in the United States.

This national exposure made him a familiar character in the US fencing scene.  In 1989, Fencing Master Ted Katzoff, founder of the Westside Fencing Center, asked Andy if he would consider moving to LA to make major improvements in the entity that eventually grew to a membership of over 450.  While there, Shaw organized a crew of skilled artisans who built the Gascon Center Theatre from scratch.  The theatre, adjacent to the fencing center, has seen over 50 productions with notable performers such as Richard Dreyfus, Charles Durning and Dan Lauria to name a few. Andy’s tenure in Los Angeles has gotten him many jobs in the movie business as a Stage Combat teacher / trainer for the following: Russell Crowe, Bob Dylan, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O’Donnell for “The Three Musketeers,” John Ritter, Rick Schroeder, Beau Bridges for “The Fifth Musketeer,” Blair Underwood, Mia Sara, and Jimmy Buffett. In addition to earning the position of “Fencing Advisor” to the film, By The Sword, Shaw has worked as a Choreographer and trainer for 3 major fencing commercials for IBM, Diet Coke and Adidas as well as for over 30 plays/shows in New York City and Los Angeles.

In the early 1990’s Shaw was asked to be the United States Fencing Association’s Official Historian, a volunteer position that only one other person in history has ever held since the organization’s inception in 1891. Known for his abilities to recall miniscule fencing facts and his collection of fencing art history and historical texts, he has been sought by many publications and organizations as a consultant and has been quoted in many media sources including: NY Times, U.S. Olympic Committee, ESPN, Washington Post, Jeopardy, Sports Illustrated, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising for I.B.M., GQ, Guiness Book of World Records, The New Yorker, The Library of Congress, Family Life Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Parent Trap, Fox Sports, Atlantic Monthly, US Magazine and Shape Magazine.

In May of 1999 Andy Shaw was invited to officiate the Southwest Sectional Fencing Championships at the Shreveport Convention Center. That moment changed Shaw’s life as Rachel Spivey, one of the Caddo Magnet High School fencers, introduced Andy to her mother Beth (she told her friends that “Shaw would be good for her mom”). Shaw married Beth Spivey on December 31st, 1999.

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Andy and Beth Shaw at the FIE 100th Anniversary in France

 

Shaw moved to Shreveport at the beginning of 2002, and opened the Fairfield Avenue School of Fencing in March 2003. In 2005, Andy was appointed by USFA President Nancy Anderson to assume the duties of Chairman of the US Fencing Hall of Fame. Andy asked US Fencing Olympian Dr. Daniel Bukantz and Great Britain Fencing Olympian Richard Cohen to join him on the committee.

Andy began teaching at Centenary College in January of 2006 with a fencing class for the Physical education Department and a course in “Show Business” for the Drama Department.