(1906-1981) – AFLA national epee champion (1931, ’44); national three-weapon champion (1933, ’34, ’41, ’42, ’47); national outdoor epee (1936, ’38); national outdoor sabre (1941). Member, US. Olympic team (1932, ’36, ’48) and captain (1952). Member, Olympic bronze medal-winning epee team (1932) and Olympic bronze-medal winning sabre team (1948). President of the AFLA (1948-52). President of the FIE (1960-64). Charter recipient of the Olympic Order (1975). The foremost administrator of the sport in the US. Captain of NYU (1928).
Mike deCapriles won 10 US National fencing titles, 2 Olympic medals, was a member of 8 Olympic fencing teams (5 as a competitor and 3 admin) and led nearly every aspect of the sport in America. Here is a breakdown of his major accomplishments: AFLA national epee champion (1931, ’44); national three-weapon champion (1933, ’34, ’41, ’42, ’47); national outdoor epee (1936, ’38); national outdoor sabre (1941). Member, US. Olympic team (1932, ’36, ’40* ’48 and captain 1952). Member, Olympic bronze medal-winning epee team (1932) and Olympic bronze-medal winning sabre team (1948). Member of 11 US National Team champions. 1951 Pan Am Games -US Fencing Team Captain and fenced in all 3 weapons winning 2 gold medals and 1 silver medal and carried the American flag for the opening ceremony. President of the AFLA (1948-52). President of the FIE (1960-64). Charter recipient of the Olympic Order in 1975 (Mike was one of the first 2 American recipients of this award from the I.O.C.). Chairman of the USOC Restructuring Committee from 1974-77 and was the driving force behind making the USOC more responsive to amateur sportmen’s needs.The foremost administrator of the sport in the US. Captain of NYU (1928). Mike was also Co-founder and Associate Editor of RIPOSTE Magazine in 1935 and Contributing Editor and one of the founding members of the original issues of AMERICAN FENCING MAGAZINE in 1949. One of Mike’s proudest achievements was winning the Lake Balaton Saber Championship in Hungary in 1936 when Hungarian sabermen “reigned supreme.” His other top victory came in 1938 with a gold medal in epee in Montreal.
In the 1930’s, Mike was present at numerous high school fencing tournaments during the “fencing boom” of the WPA and Public School Athletic League. At the 1935 awards dinner of the PSAL he said, “Gentlemen, you are involved in a noble and wonderful sport.. It is rich in tradition and offers great personal gratification. The longer you are in it the more you will appreciate its value. I commend your continuous effort and I urge you to conduct yourselves as gentlemen athletes because that is part of the tradition. In any way we can help you to continue fencing we shall be happy to do so.”
He is a member of the NYU Sports Hall of Fame and the US Fencing Hall of Fame.
*team was selected but did not compete.
We thank NYU and fencing historian Jeffrey Tishman for elements of this bio.
Miguel (Mike) Angel de Capriles was born on November 30, 1906, in Mexico City. His family moved to the United States in 1920, and he graduated from the High School of Commerce in New York City in 1924. In 1924 de Capriles began a long and prolific association with NYU that would last until 1974, when he enrolled as an undergraduate at Washington Square College. Graduating cum laude with a B.S. in 1927, he became an Administrative Officer and an instructor in the Economics Department following his graduation. In 1931 de Capriles received an M.A. in Economics, and in 1935 he received a J.D. from the School of Law. He married Dorothy W. Hafner, a fellow fencer and NYU School of Law graduate, in 1938.
Except for a brief hiatus from NYU during World War II, when he worked in Washington, D.C., for the Department of Justice, de Capriles served in numerous administrative offices and as a law professor, specializing in corporate law and finance, from 1935 until his retirement in 1974. Among his many positions at the University, he founded the Inter-American Law Institute at NYU in 1947, served as the director of the Office of Institutional Research and Educational Planning from 1953-63, was the Dean of the NYU School of Law from 1964-67, and served as the Vice President and General Counsel of NYU from 1967-74. In 1974, de Capriles was named Distinguished Professor of Law at Hastings College, University of California, San Francisco. He died in San Francisco in 1981 at the age of 75.
De Capriles was also a world-renowned fencer, having taken up the sport as an undergraduate at NYU. Ranked consistently as one of the top ten fencers in the US from 1935-51, de Capriles won 10 national individual fencing titles during his career. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team from 1932-52, winning two bronze metals (1932 in epée and 1948 in saber). He continued to be actively involved in fencing after his retirement from competition in 1952, serving as president of the International Fencing Federation and working with the U.S. Olympic committee. He is a member of the NYU Sports Hall of Fame.
Sources: Miguel Angel de Capriles Biographical File. NYU Archives.
1948 Olympic Team aboard the Queen Elizabeth
Left to Right: Warren Dow, Ralph Goldstein, Norman Lewis, Joe deCapriles, George Worth, Mike deCapriles, Tibor Nyilas, Gus Prokop