Gehrig, Adeline

Representing the New York Turn Verein, Gehrig was AFLA Women’s Foil Champion four years in a row (1920, ’21, ’22, and ’23) , a feat unmatched by any other US woman. (She placed second once.) In 1924, she represented the US in Paris, in the first Olympic Games in which women competed.  

Adeline Gehrig’s induction into the Hall of Fame acquaints a new generation of fencers with the achievements of this outstanding champion. Representing the New York Turn Verein, she was AFLA Women’s Foil Champion four years in a row (1920, ’21, ’22, and ’23), a feat unmatched by any other US woman . (She placed second once.) In 1924, she represented the US in Paris, in the first Olym pic Games in which women competed.  Her popularity, as well as her dominance, is evident in this New York Times story on her 1921 victory. It’s striking to notice the extent of coverage of a National Championship that drew only eight contestants, seven from New York City!

MARCH 24, 1921- … The work of Miss Gehrig was truly remarkable. In attaining her second straight championship triumph, he Turn Verein star clearly demonstrated her superiority over her rivals. [She was undefeated in the tournament, and only one bout was as close as 5-3.]
The victory, too, was popular, a fact which was attested by a spontaneous outburst of applause which echoed through the club when the issue was decided. When the stentorian tones of the veteranJohn Allaire [amemberof the Hall of Fame] announced
tothe gathering that ,”Miss Gehrig still is champion,” there was a din of acclaim… Everybody in the room,it seemed, wanted to congratulate the victor.  The women admirers of the champion rushed to her side and subjected Miss Gehrig to a succession of embraces which resulted in an ordeal only slightly less trying than the test of fencing skill itself.

New York Turn Verein
FENCING SECTION 1851- 1981 adelineGEHRIG1.jpg

The induction of Adeline Gehrig gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to the Fencing Section of the New York Turnverein, an athletic and social club, founded in 1848 by German political refugees. Its Fencing Section, created in 1851, was one of the earliest fencing clubs in the US. Its fencing master, Franz Sigel, became a Major General for the Union in the Civil War. In the early days of the AFLA, the Turnverein was among the strongest teams, winning numbers of championships. Hall of Famer John Allaire was a member at this time. Adeline Gehrig was the strongest fencer the club produced. (She was no relation to Yankees First Baseman Lou Gehrig, although Lou used to work out at the Turnverein as a youth) The Turnverein was home to numbers of distinguished fencing masters, including Francisco Martin, Stanislav Bardakh, and especially Hall of Farner Odon Niederkirchner, fencing master from 1955 – 1979. The last achievement of the NYTV was a bronze medal in team epee at the Nationals of 1974. In 1981, the Fencing Section ended when the Turnverein sold its splendid headququarters on East 83rd Street. The sponsors of this notice are three members of the Hall of Fame Committee who are former Turners: Arnold Messing, longtime captain of the NYTV fencing team and chairman of the Fencing Section, Steve Khinoy, the Fencing Section’s last chairman, and Stuart Barth. Wang Yung, the 2001 World Veterans Sabre Bronze Medalist, was also a Turner.