2-time Pan AM Gold Medalist, National foil champion 1969, Olympian, Olympic Team Captain
Carl Borack, just after winning the US foil nationals with his coach, Mel North and his dad.
Carl Borack occupies a unique place in the U.S. fencing history. A former national champion in men’s foil (the youngest winner at that time), he was also a medallist in men’s epee and a saber finalist as well. In 1971, he accomplished the rare feat of making the finals of the National Championships in all three weapons in the same year. He was a two- time Pan AM Gold Medal Winner (Epee Team ’67 & Foil Team “71) and was a U.S. Olympic Team member in 1972. He has been a significant voice and influence in our sport over a period 30 years and even as a junior fencer had an impact on the “AFLA” by pioneering the way for future “official” Jr. World Teams. He has worn numerous hats and provided many different functions to our teams, our federation, the USOC, and the FIE.
Borack has proudly marched in five Olympic Opening Ceremonies, once as an athlete and four times as Team Captain. He has marched in five Pan Am Olympic Ceremony openings: twice as an athlete and three times as Team Captain. He has served as Captain and/or Chief of Mission of numerous World Championships and Junior/Cadet World Championship Teams and has witnessed the progress of U.S fencers over four generations.
Borack was elected as Executive Vice President of the USFA (’84-’88).
In 1996, 2000, and 2004 he was elected to the International Fencing Federation’s (FIE), “Promotion, Publicity, and Marketing Commission” on which he now serves as President.
During the 1984 Olympic Games, Borack worked for ABC and served as the technical expert and “liaison” between the broadcaster, the organizer and the FIE. Carl has been serving as the Chief of Mission of many of the U.S. teams, while serving to mentor new Team Captain, Jeff Bukantz and aid him in his role as the Olympic Team Captain. Recently in Bulgaria (while serving as Captain/Chief of Mission, he shepherded former Olympian, Jim Carpenter, who was serving as Assistant Captain to the Junior/Cadet World Team in Bulgaria and lead him through the maze of team leadership. Carl’s knowledge of the competitive minefield, the relationships he has established and the credibility he has achieved from years of service to U.S. teams provides the USFA and its athletes with a quality representative, spokesman, and colorful advocate with clarity and prestige.
Carl Borack and Bill Clinton, former President of the United States
Carl Borack and his coach, Mel North after his 1969 US Foil victory.
Carl Borack in 1969. Israel.
1965 Salle De Nord Epee Team, Joe Elliott, Carl Borack Mel North, Bob Block
Carl Borack in high school.
Elthes congratulates Carl Borack’s coach, Mel North after Borack clinched the title in 1969
This was written by Carl Borack, September 1969, 22 years of age.
NARRATIVE ON OUR OURNEY TO CUBA – FIRST ROUGH DRAFT
The time: September 1969
The place: Havana, Cuba
Strange place for an American to be considering the diplomatic positions of both countries; yet, there we were: twenty-five Americans about to leave on our deluxe CUBANA AIRLINES plane (four engine-prop) that had taken us from Mexico City to the land of FIDEL CASTRO AND COUNTRYMEN.
Before you even start to attempt to guess our motive for going to Cuba, let me stop your efforts and tell you that we were not there for political reasons. Quite the opposite, we were there to ignore politics and politicians (all sides) and enter into the cleaner, more healthy world of athletic competition. Cuba was playing host to the 1969 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF FENCING. Fourteen (two more joined later) of us were competitors; the other eleven were comprised of coaches, officials, and a team doctor.
Even before we left Mexico we cold sense that the trip could be nothing short of monumental. Perhaps if I was looking for it I might have seen it in our eyes, but there seemed to be an unstated, silent acknowledgement which settled in our subconscious mind and whispered “THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE HELLUVA TRIP, “ OR “I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN, BUT I DO KNOW ONE THING – IT AIN’T GOING TO BE BORING!
Not that the World Championships of Fencing could ever be boring but there were so many other things that tended to make this journey border on being “EPIC”. For instance, we were the first team or group (with the knowledge and consent of the United States Government) to travel to Cuba since the diplomatic split between Washington and Havana. We were told that we’d stay at the Hotel Nacional but we really had no idea what the living conditions would be and what type of reception to expect. To further add to our tingling nerves and projections into the future, our plane left for Havana two days late. We never knew for sure when we were leaving until we actually boarded the plane. One thing we did know, the altitude of Mexico City was not helping us to prepare physically and the uncertainty of our departure was not helping our mental attitudes.
When we finally arrived at the airport to board the flight ( though at that point we didn’t know if we’d ever get to Cuba) we sound some of the other passengers were fellow fencers from Chile, Canada, and Mexico, all of whom we knew rather well. Just so that the flight wouldn’t be dull, there were fifteen more passengers who just coincidentally happened to be the fifteen Brazilian political prisoners who were released in exchange for a kidnapped American Ambassador.*The actual flight was smooth, the food was good, and we all were lost in our anticipatory thoughts. When we arrived in Havana, the Brazilians got off the plane first and greeted the awaiting newsmen and far more dramatic the awaiting hugs and kisses of welcome from FIDEL CASTRO HIMSELF!……….EPIC, SIMPLY EPIC.
WE followed the Brazilians off the plane although FIDEL was too busy embracing his comrades to notice us. We were lead into a waiting room along with the Chileans, Canadians, and Mexicans and were greeted by MARIACHIS and served daquiris. If the festive music of the MARIACHIS
didn’tease our tension, the daquiris certainly did and after some customs formalities were take care of we were destined for the Hotel Nacional and told we didn’t have too much time to unpack because we would be late for the Gala dinner and show honoring the CHAMPIONSHIPS and its participants. We hadn’t even been there for two hours when we found ourselves seated at the famous TROPICANA NIGHT CLUB. Fencers, coaches, and officials from all over the world were there for the superb dinner and show.
The TROPICANA is an open-air club approximately the size of a large Vegas showroom. There were five or six semi-circle tiers of tables that surround the enormous stage which has four or five levels extending onto the tiers enabling chorus lines to maneuver amongst the audience. The TROPICANA has no roof allowing the tropical sky to embellish the interior of palm trees and foliage. It also enables the tumultuous sky to participate in the festivities and of course in our case it did. I think it came after our second glass of wine, nothing major, just a quick (ten minute) downpour sending everyone to cover (I’ve never seen corks thrust into bottles as fast as I did then). We returned to our seast for the third and fourth courses of our meal and were then treated to another downpour (this time everyone took their wine bottle with them) which lasted for another ten minutes or so. Again, we returned to our seats and witnessed an hour and a half show that would put a Vegas extravaganza to shame. Singers, acrobats, musicians, dancers all pouring their hearts out in a show that had been prepared especially for the commemoration of the CHAMPIONSHIPS. The finale even contained choreographed fencing movements which were flawlessly performed by the numerous members of the chorus line. The organizers of future tournaments will have to go far and wide to top this party…….EPIC,SIMPLY EPIC.
Gil Eisner and Carl Borack, 1977 on the movie set of THE BIG FIX which Borack produced.
Vinnie Bradford, Gay DAssaro and Stacey Johnson on the Queen Elizabeth II with Carl Borack, 1985