|CLIFFORD S. BAYER
To this day Cliff Bayer remains the most successful US foilsman in World Cup history, having won two gold and one bronze medal.
At age 23, New York City native Cliff Bayer was already considered among the best Americans ever in fencing, a sport in which success has long been restricted to European nations. "My main motivation has been (disproving) the belief that fencing is a European-dominated sport, that an American can't compete," he says. In May 1999, Bayer became the first American ever to earn a medal at a senior men's World Cup event, taking bronze in Espinho, Portugal. Three months later, in St. Petersburg, Russia, he became the first American ever to win a World Cup title. At that competition he routed three-time world champion Sergei Golubitsky of Ukraine 15-6 in the quarterfinals before defeating 1995 world champion Dmitry Chevtchenko of Russia 10-5 in the final. Bayer recalls that the Russian crowd was so shocked by the result that, "I looked into the crowd and saw 500 dropped jaws." Bayer had won another World Cup title earlier that year in Bonn, Germany, where the defending 1996 Olympic champion Alessandro Puccini of Italy was among his victims.
Bayer also earned a bronze medal at the 1997 Junior World Championships in Tenerife, Spain, and a gold medal at the 1997 Junior World Cup Tournament in Aix-en-Provence, France. Bayer was ranked the United States #1 men’s foil fencer for 5 straight years (1995-2000).
Bayer competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Entering the 2000 Summer Olympics, Bayer was ranked No. 8 in the world in foil. Bayer won his second round match over Sobczak of Poland (15-9), but lost in the third round to Korea's Young-Ho Kim (14-15), the eventual gold medalist, and placed 10th.
Bayer won the U.S. National Championship in 1995, while still a senior at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, becoming the youngest men's foil national champion ever, at the age of 17—an honor that he held until 2007. He won the U.S. National Championship again in 1997, 1998, and 2000.
In 1996, Bayer was the NCAA Foil Champion while at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was enrolled in the Wharton School of Business. He also earned an MBA from Wharton. In 1996 Bayer was named U.S. Fencer of the Year, and in 1999 he was honored as the United States Olympic Committee's Male Athlete of the Month for May.
Cliff is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Fencing Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Felicia Zimmermann and Cliff Bayer at the Atlanta Games
1996 Jr. World's
Left to Right: Iris Zimmermann, Monique DeBruin, Cliff Bayer, Erinn Smart