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The Monstery-Senac Fencing Contest of 1876

May 21, 2015

A new article about one of the most controversial martial arts contests of the nineteenth century, held right here in New York City in 1876…a challenge that included the rapier, foil, saber, knife, and bayonet.

Out of This Century

Above: Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery. Above: Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery.

In April of 1876, New York City played host to one of the most public and controversial American fencing contests of the nineteenth century. The disagreements over judging decisions and methods of scoring were so great that “inflamed” arguments erupted between the referee and the combatants’ seconds. At times, angry audience members rushed the stage and had to be removed from the premises by police. Before the day was over, one of the combatants walked off the stage in the middle of the contest, and the entire event broke up in disorder. Eventually, the two contestants would come to personal blows. In the weeks following, conflicting accounts of the contest appeared in various New York City newspapers, and witnesses from the day published impassioned letters about what they saw, attempting to set the record straight.

Now, even more than 130 years later, it…

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