(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Olympian, national champion and USA Fencing Hall of Fame member Alex Orban (Milford, CT) passed away on Dec. 2 at age 82.
Born August 25, 1939 in Budapest, Hungary, Orban began fencing at age 14 after being introduced to the sport by a schoolmate. By 16, he was the youngest to have achieved a first-class rating in Hungary and was labeled the “coming star of the Magyar squads.”
Following the Hungarian October Revolution in 1956, Orban left Hungary for the USA, where he first settled in California. After a season in Los Angeles, he moved to San Francisco and joined the renowned Pannonia Athletic Club where he was coached by Maestro George Piller, the Hungarian master who notoriously decided not to return to his country following the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. With the Pannonia team, he earned a gold medal at the 1960 National Championships against the New York Athletic Club (NYAC).
After three years of military service, he moved to New York and became a member of the NYAC, where he trained under Maestro Csaba Elthes, who had also left Hungary in 1956.
Orban was U.S. national saber champion in 1965 and every year from 1969 to 1972, and individual saber champion at the 1971 Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia. Orban competed on the U.S. Olympic fencing team at the 1968 (Mexico City), 1972 (Munich) and 1976 (Montreal) Olympic Games. He was the first U.S. saber fencer to win an international “A” rated event in 1968 in Lodz, Poland.
As a team fencer, he won national saber titles with Pannonia AC in 1960-1961 and as part of the NYAC team he won team titles from 1965 to 1970 and in 1972. He also won men’s team silver medals at the Pan American Games in 1971 and 1975 (Mexico City).
For 40 years, Orban worked for Mercedes-Benz of Fairfield, CT.