Fuchs underlines Hungarian sabre supremacy

Just as the Belgians reigned supreme in the epée and the Italians showed their prowess in the foil, in the sabre events it was the Hungarians who underlined their status as world masters, completing a clean sweep in the individual competition and winning gold in the team competition.

 Their stand-out sabrist, Jenő Fuchs, who repeated his feats of London 1908 by winning double gold, did so in even more impressive style in Stockholm, remaining undefeated in both individual and team competitions.

In the individual event, Fuchs was joined on the podium by compatriots Béla Békessy and Ervin Mészáros. It was therefore little surprise when the Hungarians, spearheaded by Fuchs, had retained their team title two days earlier.

The sabre competitions began on July 14. According to the Official Report, the weapon chosen for use in Stockholm “was somewhat unfamiliar; it was the light form of the sabre which is generally called ‘the Italian’, the style of fencing being something between those of the foil and the épée.” It didn’t take long for the Hungarians to put it to effective use. “Now, as then, the fencing of the Hungarians awakened well-deserved attention, and afforded an encouraging example of the results that can be obtained by means of a good school and methodical work,” purred the Official Report. Only the teams of Austria and Bohemia came close to presenting the imperious Hungarians with any kind of challenge, though the Dutch team also received plaudits for their energetic and combative resilience.

The sabre competitions proved particularly popular with the local spectators who had treated the foil and epee with relative indifference but “seemed to have a better appreciation of the lively, sporting character of the fencing, features that distinguished it from the competitions with the other weapons.” And Fuchs was singled out for helping to ensure that the competition was such a watchable spectacle. “The Hungarians in this event brilliantly maintained their reputation as, perhaps, the greatest masters of the sabre in Europe, and their leading representative, Dr. Fuchs, awakened general admiration by the skill and strength he displayed during the course of the competition,” extolled the Report. “Although of slight build and rather low stature, he succeeded, by means of his well-calculated sabre-play, in repelling the attacks of, and defeating, the most powerfully built and vigorous opponents.”

When he laid down his sword, Fuchs could look back on an overall Olympic scoresheet that read 22 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. In 1982, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.