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Athlete Feature: Don Anthony Juggles Presidency with a Lifetime of Fencing

10/17/2012, 10:37am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

For most people your 50s are a time to slow down a bit more, enjoy life, cut back on the frenetic pace of things… 

All of these are notions that Don Anthony Jr. (Columbus, Ohio) would surely scoff at.

At 55-years-old, Anthony’s schedule has reached a new level of chaos. In addition to serving as the founder and CEO of SwordSport Productions and Chairman and CEO of the Warrior Group, Anthony made the decision to earlier this year to run for a four-year term as the president of USA Fencing.

“I never planned on running, but a number of my friends came to me and asked me to do it and I thought it would be a good way to use my background in management consulting and executive coaching to help bring about a positive change in the organization,” Anthony said.

While he is excited about his new role and the opportunity to give back to the fencing community, Anthony said he thought he understood what he was getting into based on his previous terms on the board of directors, but when the results came back the impact was instant.

“I don’t think my phone has stopped ringing since the results were announced,” he laughed. “I had no idea it would be that fast. I didn’t even take office until after Closing Ceremony in London, but everybody wanted to talk to me and when I was in Anaheim it was all day every day. It was good, though. I got to hear what people thought, what they wanted – both positive and negative – but it helped me hit the ground running when it became official in August.”

As if juggling a full-time job, a new time intensive volunteer role and being a husband to his wife 16 years, Karen, wasn’t enough, Anthony keeps fencing at a high level and will represent Team USA at the Veteran World Championships in the men’s 50-59 saber event.

While Anthony competed twice at the Senior World Championships in 1989 and 1995 and fenced for Princeton University during his younger days, he says fencing the veterans is different than his past experiences.

“The level of competition at the vets is higher at the 50s, but it’s obviously not the same as fencing when I was younger because it was so deep back then. At Nationals, you’re going to run into four or five people at the top that are highly competitive instead of 12, but every year the events are getting tougher and the competition is getting harder,” said Anthony who qualified for the Veteran Worlds after winning the USA Fencing National Championships in July.

Fencing in his 50s – with almost no break from his senior fencing days as he qualified for his last Senior World Team at the age of 38 – has its own set of challenges, including finding time to train and battling injuries.

Following his win in Anaheim, Anthony was spotted with a bag of ice as he nursed a swollen knee and semi-torn hamstring.

“The injuries are fine. I’m fine. I survived. The hamstring didn’t tear any further. The knee didn’t swell up any more than it ordinarily does and I won, so that’s all good,” he said at the time.

In spite of the injuries, Anthony said he still loves competing and encourages others his age to continue to fence or even pick it up for the first time.

“When you’re at the age where you’re old enough to fence vets, you have to have some kind of physical activity to keep you healthy and active and fencing’s an activity where you can do it, it’s fun and it’s a good opportunity from a social standpoint and I can burn more calories than fencing than doing almost anything else,” Anthony said.

Anything else? More than running?

“Oh yeah. I can burn more calories fencing for half an hour than I would running unless I were just sprinting for the full half hour. It’s such a highly anaerobic sport that it’s like doing interval training the entire time you’re on the strip,” he said.

Next week, Anthony will travel to Krems, Austria to compete at the Veteran World Championships with more than 60 U.S. teammates. And, though he’ll happily talk about the camaraderie or the sport, make no mistake that he’s training for gold.

“Well, considering that I took the silver last time I was there, I’d like to win this time. I feel like I’ve broken through. There was a period for three years where every time I came back, my coach would be like ‘silver again?’” Anthony laughed. “So when I came home from Nationals with a gold medal, that was a big move from the standpoint of breaking through that, so I’m hoping it will continue.” 

Tag(s): News  Donald Anthony Jr.