Dutcher, Ray

13-time Indian Club Champion, 1920 US Epee Champion, 6th at the 1920 Olympic Games – Men’s Epee Team.


Indian clubs or Iranian clubs or meels belong to a category of exercise equipment used for developing strength in juggling. They comprise bowling-pin shaped wooden “clubs” of varying sizes and weights, which are swung in certain patterns as part of an exercise program. They can range from a few pounds each, up to special clubs that can weigh as much as 50 pounds. They were used in carefully choreographed routines where the clubs were swung in unison by a group of exercisers, led by an instructor in the front. Despite their common English name implying an Indian origin, the so-called Indian clubs were in fact created in the Near East. Properly referred to as meels (Persian: میل mil), they are first recorded as being used by wrestlers in ancient Persia, Egypt, and the Middle East. They were exceptionally popular during the health craze of the late Victorian era, used by military cadets and well-heeled ladies alike, and even appeared as a gymnastic event in the 1904 and 1932 Olympics. Gymnasia were built just to cater to club exercise groups. from Wikipedia


Winged Foot Magazine

May, Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-Five


Ray W. Dutcher National Clubs Champion

Has Won Twenty-One Gold Medals, Ten Silver and Five Bronze

and is Still Going Strong – Was Member of the Olympic Team

            It was a rather odd coincidence back in the college days of Ray W. Dutcher, The National A.A.U. Club-Swinging Champion, that due to a peculiar adverse circumstance he was not taken with the New York University “gym” Team to compete in the intercollegiates held at Yale University, after he had won practically all the firsts that could be won in competitive meets held during that Collegiate year, so to put one over on the “powers that be”, he entered the nationals just to try his luck.

Of course, the National Indian Clubs were three-pounders, while those of the Intercollegiates weighed only one and a half pounds. It was quite a feature to see him try his hand at this “Man’s Sport”, and it was rather interesting to see him qualify for third place, when young Harris, the crack “Club-Swinger” of that day, dropped his club. During the five-minute swinging with those three-pound clubs, several of the audience started as if they were ready to assist that long lean Atom of humanity, thinking every moment that he would drop from exhaustion.

It happened that there were two keen-sighted, assiduous personages in the audience who saw a future National Indian Club Swinger in the elongated Intercollegiate Champion. So as the general run of things go, one morning Ray Dutcher was paged at the University Heights, with the notice that Mr. Matt Halpin and Paul Pilgrim were on the wire at the New York Athletic Club.

Well you can imagine what a surprise it must have been to that young collegian as he was invited by these two extinguished gentlemen to join the Club. They knew the kind of an athlete they were getting, as he has won twenty-one gold medals, ten silver medals, and five bronze medals since that day, way back in 1911.

It was only two weeks ago that he succeeded in defending his title as National Champion with the one and one-half pound Indian Clubs, which title he has held practically since 1912.

In 1915 it was suggested that he ought to make a good dueling sword champion as well, so due to the ingenious tutelage of our able Fencing Instructors he began to aspire in the fencing room. The Dueling Sword seemed to be his meat, for the training in Club Swinging developed a strong rigid wrist, which is an asset for that particular weapon.

In 1918 Dutcher qualified, and won third place in the National Dueling Sword Championships held at the Hotel Astor; in 1919 he qualified and won second in the same event; and in 1920 he reached the height of ambition when he tied for First Place with Henry Breckenridge in the same even tat the Hotel Astor, and finally, after a very heated twenty-minute fence-off, succeeded in carrying away the honors of the day by winning the National Championship.

This event not only made him National Champion Duelist for 1920, but also placed him on the 1920 Olympic Team that represented the United States at Antwerp, Belgium.

It was a rather peculiar fact to note that the judges were not exactly satisfied to have a single weapon man on the Olympic Team, so a special tryout meet was arranged the next week to test the ability of this duelist’s keen judgment and nerve. The best fencers of the country were to test his aspirations, and to their surprise he succeeded in winning all his bouts at this grueling contest under the tutelage of his distinguished friend Dr. James B. Clemens. It was finally announced at the banquet that followed, that Dutcher would be added to the 1920 Olympic Dueling Team.