Norman Armitage

Norman Armitage
Norman Armitage
Personal information
Born January 1, 1907(1907-01-01)
Albany, New York, United States
Died March 14, 1972(1972-03-14) (aged 65)
New York, New York, United States
Sport Fencing

Norman Armitage (January 1, 1907, as Norman Cohn, in Albany, New York – March 14, 1972; Columbia University 1930), was an American saber fencer. He was tall, willowy, and sported a "little waxed moustache."[1]


Early life

Armitage, who was Jewish,[2] was born in Albany, New York.

Fencing career


He took up the sport when he was a student at Columbia University. In less than three years he won the Intercollegiate Fencing Association sabre championship, in 1928.

National sabre championships

Armitage fenced in the national championships 25 times, finished among the top three in sabre 22 times, and won 10 championships: in 1930, from 1934–36, from 1939–43, and in 1945. He holds 17 national championship titles, more than any other US sabre fencer.[3]


Armitage competed in six Olympics, 1928–36 and 1948–56, only taking a break for World War II. His span of 28 years between appearances would only be matched among U.S. Olympians by equestrian Michael Plumb in 1992, nearly half a century later.[4] He was a member of the three-man color guard that carried the U.S. flag in the 1948 opening ceremony, and he was the lone flag bearer at the opening ceremony in the 1952 Helsinki Games and in 1956.

He first competed at the 1928 Amsterdam Games (as Norman Cohn) in the individual and team events. In the team competition, the U.S. was eliminated in the first round after losing to Hungary (2–14) and Poland (7–9). Armitage did a little better in the individual sabre, reaching the semifinals, but was eliminated after finishing seventh in his pool.

Armitage returned to the Olympics in 1932 at the Los Angeles Games, competing in the team and individual sabre events. While the U.S. team finished fourth after reaching the finals (they lost to Hungary and Poland), Armitage was ninth in the individual competition.

A chemical engineer and later a patent attorney, Armitage suffered third degree chemical burns on his right hand and arm in a January 1936 accident, and doctors said he would never fence again, yet he made the Olympic team that year. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Armitage did not advance past the semifinals in the individual sabre, and was fifth in team sabre.

He won his only medal, a bronze, at the 1948 London Games, leading the U.S. to third place in the team sabre event.[5][6] He was awarded the 'Friendship Trophy' as the outstanding American fencer.

At the 1952 Helsinki Games, Armitage was the lone flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies. Although he did not compete in the individual competition, but he helped lead the U.S. team in the team sabre event. They defeated Switzerland (9–2) in the first round, Germany (11–5) in the second, and Poland (10–6) in the semifinals. In the final round-robin, the U.S. lost to Hungary (13–3), Italy (12–4), and France (8–6), and finished fourth.

Hall of Fame

Armitage was the first person to be inducted into the USFA Hall of Fame, in 1963.

See also


External links

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Ralph Craig
Flagbearer for  United States
Helsinki 1952
Succeeded by
Norman Cohn-Armitage
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Norman Cohn-Armitage
Flagbearer for  United States
Melbourne 1956
Succeeded by
Rafer Johnson

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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