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Year and Place of Birth:
Melbourne, Australia

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When and Why they started fencing:

John Fethers was born in Melbourne and began fencing at the age of 17. It was the same year that the Australian Amateur Fencing Association was formed. John’s passion for fencing was inspired by his love of Errol Flynn’s films. It was this passion that made him a champion fencer, an engaging coach, an inspirational mentor and a dear friend.

John had only been fencing for 6 months when he entered and won the Victorian Novice and Intermediate foil championships, and came 3rd in the Open event. His Victorian results were quickly followed by a 3rd in the first ever Australian Fencing Championships in 1949. In 1951 he won the Australian National Championships in all three fencing weapons, a feat that has only been matched once.

The 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland were John’s first experience of international fencing, where he won the silver medal in the men’s foil (a result he repeated in the 1954 Games, as well as bronze in the sabre).

John was selected to represent Australia in the foil at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. This was the first time an Australian fencing team competed at the Olympic Games. He reached the semi-final round of the individual foil in the World Championships of 1953 and 1954; as well as the finals round of the 1955 World Championships. This result is yet to be repeated by any Australian fencer. One of John’s proudest accomplishments was being awarded the Challenge Gilbert Duval in 1961, one of Europe’s highest fencing honours, awarded to the fencer judged the best over a five year period.

At the French Academy of Arms he become a Maitre d’Armes (Master of Arms) at the end of 1956. He returned to Australia in 1964 to coach the Australian Olympic Team before being appointed the national coach in 1966.

John never lost his love of the films that inspired him to fencing. He knew the dialogue, the music, and the sword play. As well as appearing in a number of short films, he went on to choreograph duels for stage, screen and television. He treated the choreography in the same way he treated his lessons, with care and perfection.

Many fencers can attribute their passion for the sport to John. His own dedication to fencing, his professionalism and his ever present enthusiasm impacted everyone he encountered. With John’s passing the fencing community has lost a stalwart, but the legacy he has left through those he coached, those who he inspired to become coaches, and their students in turn, will last long into the future.

1954 Commonwealth Games - Member, Men's Foil Team
- Silver
1954 Commonwealth Games - Member, Men's Sabre Team
- Bronze
1954 Commonwealth Games - Men's Sabre
- Bronze
1954 Commonwealth Games - Men's Foil
- Silver
1954 Commonwealth Games - Men's Epee
1954 Commonwealth Games - Member, Men's Epee Team
- Bronze
1950 Commonwealth Games - Men's Foil
- Silver
1950 Commonwealth Games - Member, Men's Foil Team
- Top 8(4)
1951 National Opens - Men's Sabre - Gold
1951 National Opens - Men's Epee - Gold
1951 National Opens - Men's Foil - Gold
Return to Biographies Last Updated 12 Jan 2018 12:48