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Robert Blum, USA Fencing Hall of Fame Saber Fencer Who Competed at Two Olympics, Dies at 94

11/30/2022, 9:15pm CST
By Bryan Wendell

Robert Blum competed at two Olympics — the 1964 Games in Tokyo and the 1968 Games in Mexico City.


Robert and Barbara Blum

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.Robert Max Blum OLY, an American saber fencer who competed at two Olympic Games and fenced and officiated at the highest levels of the sport across five different decades, died peacefully on Nov. 27, 2022, at his home in Rensselaerville, N.Y. He was 94.

A life member of USA Fencing, Blum’s competitive career began to flourish as an All-American fencer at Trinity College in Connecticut and later Columbia University in New York.

In 1958, he became the first American ever to make the individual saber finals at a Fencing World Championship (a feat later matched by Peter Westbrook OLY).

Steve Kaplan OLY, a saber fencer who represented Team USA at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, remembers Blum as a talented fencer who was always honest, direct and kind.

“I have nothing but great memories of [Bob Blum],” Kaplan says. “As an up-and-coming saber fencer, it was great to fence him regularly at the Fencers Club. More than this, he was one of the best people I ever met in the sport.”

Blum competed at two Olympics — finishing tied for seventh in the men’s saber team event at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and sixth in the same event at the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

Blum represented Team USA at the quadrennial Pan American Games three times, won the Metropolitan Division Men’s Individual Saber title seven times, and won the U.S. Saber team title 10 times — first for Salle Santelli and later for Fencers Club. 

He also officiated at four Olympic Games (in 1964, 1968, 1976 and 1984).

Even as Blum embarked on a successful legal career and became a proud husband and father, he never strayed too far from the fencing strip. He continued to attend national and international fencing events — as a fencer, captain or official — from the mid-1950s through the end of the 1980s. 

Blum is preceded in passing by his wife, Barbara. In 1951, Blum married Barbara Jean Rebecca Bennett of Beaver, Pa. In the 1970s, Barbara Blum used her passion for helping others and her role as a high-ranking social services official to rescue hundreds of abused residents at a school for people with mental disabilities. Her heroic efforts made national headlines, and when Barbara Blum died in 2012, her obituary was published in The New York Times.

In 2010, Robert Blum’s lifelong accomplishments were honored by his peers in USA Fencing with his election to the USA Fencing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010.

Even in his 80s and 90s, Blum was regarded as a principled, caring and fun-loving advocate for fencing. In his final days, family members report that Blum enjoyed listening to music, watching old movies — and watching Fencing World Championships bouts on YouTube.

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Information used from Robert Blum’s page on the Museum of American Fencing, created by fencing historian Andy Shaw.


Robert Blum (left) and Alex Orban

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