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Wed, 04.16.1952

Peter Westbrook, one of fencings best

Peter Westbrook

Peter Westbrook was born on this date in 1952. He is an African American Sabre Fencer, teacher, and administrator.

Westbrook grew up in the Hayes Homes housing project, in Newark, New Jersey. His father was African-American, his mother Japanese. His mother Mariko was the daughter of a Japanese bureaucrat, had defied her father by marrying a black GI; leaving her country forever. As a child, his fathers beat his mother often until one day his father simply left.

Westbrook’s mother always wanted a good life for her son and around the age of fourteen, she had structured his break out to a better life. She told him stories about her ancestry and some laced this heritage with come modern enticement. "My mother could trace her lineage back through many samurai. This was a source of great honor, great pride” Westbrook has said. She also offered him five dollars for each fencing lesson her son would take.

Westbrook took his first lesson, at Essex Catholic High School, from a fencer named Samuel D'Ambola. Westbrook also boxed in the Police Athletic League and in the streets. But fencing’s intellectual encounter was attractive and Westbrook mastered the art of strategizing several moves ahead of his opponents. Meanwhile, his mother worked as a domestic at the local Catholic grammar school, so that he could study at Essex and keep fencing. He quickly became one of the best high school fencers in New Jersey, and New York University offered him a full athletic scholarship.

Westbrook was 22 years old when he made his first appearance at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976 as the team's youngest fencer. He also won gold medals at the Pan American Games in 1983 and 1995, silver medals in 1979 and 1987, and a bronze medal in 1975. A 6 Time Member of the U.S. Olympic Team, Westbrook was the 1984 Olympic Games Bronze Medalist in Men's Sabre and a 13 Time U.S. National Men's Sabre Champion.

In 1991, he created the Peter Westbrook Foundation.

Reference:
CNN Sports Illustrated

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