Nadi, Aldo

Aldo Nadi (1899-1965) is possibly the greatest fencer who ever lived. His elder brother Nedo may have harvested six Olympic gold medals (five in one Games, in 1920) from just two Olympics, but he too gained gold in Antwerp (1920), and after he turned professional, at the age of 22, he won 56 international contests in the next seven years, defeating everyone he encountered. “The best man with all three weapons,” was the verdict of Roger Ducret, the 1920 Olympic foil champion.

Why induct an Italian, however gifted, into the US Hall of Fame? Because of what he contributed to American fencing. From 1935 to 1943 Nadi taught in New York, initially in two large rooms on the third floor of the Savoy Plaza Hotel. In the mid-1940s he moved to Los Angeles, teaching at his salle on La Cienega Boulevard, turning out champions at all levels of American fencing. He wrote a highly regarded treatise on foil (1943) and a posthumously-published autobiography (1995), one of the most readable books on fencing ever published. His influence on fencing in the U.S. was considerable, over a stretch of more than 30 years. He deserves to be recognized.