Carl Borack occupies a unique place in the U.S. fencing history As an athlete, team leader, and FIE representative, Borack has made his mark on American and International Fencing. As an athlete he burst onto the national team at the age of 19, when he made his first Pan American Games Team in Epee that won a gold medal in Winnipeg. Two years later he won the National Championships in Foil and became the youngest male to do so, he followed that performance three weeks later by winning the Gold Medal in Saber at the Maccabiah Games going undefeated along the way.
Borack solidified his credentials as the best three-weapon fencer of his generation, and perhaps in the history of American fencing in 1971, by making all three final rounds at the National Championships in the same year. He made the Pan Am team in Foil, going on to win a Team gold, his second Pan Am gold. Borack was a pioneer of sorts, traveling to three Junior World Championships (1965 Rotterdam, ‘66 Vienna, & ‘67 Teheran) before the then “AFLA” was sending teams. Borack’s youthful success changed that mindset and in 1968 the Association started aiding teams. He also competed in the ’66 Moscow, ’67 Montreal, and ’69 Havana World Championships. Borack went on to become an Olympian in 1972, and competed in Munich also serving as the Captain of the Men’s Foil Team.
In 1996 he was elected to the FIE Publicity and Promotion Commission and was reelected in 2000 & 2004 and served as its president during his last term. He has also served as Executive Vice President of the USFA, and on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Public Relations Commission and numerous USFA High Performance commissions. His passion for the sport and the athletes has gone unabated over half a century.
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 JOURNEY 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 our 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.
New York Times, 1966
LA Times, 1969
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
Felicia Zimmermann and Carl Borack, Open Ceremonies Atlanta Olympics
Following his competitive years, Borack has gone on to serve in a leadership role as U.S. Team Captain in four Olympic Games (’88,’92,’96, & 2000), three Pan American Games Teams (’87, ’91. ’95); the ‘85 World University Games team; and countless Cadet/Junior, and Senior World Championships. He has proudly marched in five Olympic Opening Ceremonies, once as an athlete and four times as Team Captain. 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.
CANDIDATE FOR THE FENCING HALL OF FAME