Andy in the Media

Click here to see Andy Shaw’s interview about Joe Levis.

USFA Historian Andy Shaw took time at the USFA Hall of Fame meeting to tell the tale of Olympian and 8 time National Champion Joe Levis. It’s a terrible case of what might have happened if Joe Levis had been allowed to fence to his full potential. It’s a West Coast Archive Story because Joe Levis earned a Silver and a Bronze medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

Click here to see Southern Fried Fencing.

Andy Shaw, an eccentric fencing coach, moves from New York City to the deep South. The locals view him with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity until they realize the lessons he offers extend beyond the fencing strip. Fencing history makes way from Shreveport to Rio


Fencing history makes way from Shreveport to Rio

By Eric Pointer, Digital Content Producer/Reporter


A Shreveport fencing expert was able to take part in the Olympic games by sending a piece of history from a medal winner’s past to Rio.

Andy Shaw, the owner of Fairfield Avenue School of Fencing and the Museum of American Fencing, is also a historian for the sport.

“I love the history. And once in a while, people find history very important,” said Shaw.

When Alex Massialas won the silver medal for fencing, Shaw had a chance to showcase some of his knowledge and share some history in Rio.

“Massialas won the silver medal the other day and somebody wanted, from the Olympic committee, wanted a photograph of Massialas and his father who’s also an Olympian. And I have those,” said Shaw.

Shaw may have another connection to the Olympics in his student Jakarri Kent. Kent recently got a full scholarship to fence at Cleveland State University, and one day and he hopes to make it to the Olympics.

“It’s gonna take lots of sacrifices, lots of practice, lots of commitment. Just work,” said Kent.

Kent has been fencing for about 3 years. He says he’s been paying close attention to the sport at the Olympics.

“I kind of look at it as I see myself in the same predicament, which makes me wanna work harder to get to where they are. So it’s really like an inspiration.”




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NBC Sports 2004 Olympics – History of Siblings in Olympic Fencing

During their coverage of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games NBC Sports Called Shreveport, Louisiana from their headquarters in Rockafeller Plaza in New York City, to interview Andy Shaw about the history of siblings qualifying for the Olympics for fencing:

Continue reading → New York’s Olympic Sport Is Fencing

New York’s Olympic Sport Is Fencing

By Jen Kirby

American Olympic fencers in Rio. Photo: David Ramos

Daryl Homer went to high school in New York City, and his classmates knew he fenced. But some apparently didn’t know quite how talented he was. Homer says one of his friends told him, “You always talked about how good you were at all these sports, but you weren’t that good at them.” Now, his friend said, “It’s pretty crazy.”

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Shreveport Times: Shreveport fencing coach huddled inside downtown kitchen during Dallas shooting

From the Shreveport Times:

Shreveport fencing coach huddled inside downtown kitchen during Dallas shooting

Andy Shaw heard two gunshots right after ordering his turkey burger and Diet Coke late Thursday at the Owners Box, a downtown Dallas sports bar in the Omni Hotel.

Prior to sitting down to a late dinner, Shaw, 65, had made an announcement at the United States National Fencing Championship that a shooting had taken place outside the hotel.

“I just thought it was some nut outside and they’d get it under control,” said Shaw, a native New Yorker who now lives in Shreveport. He had no idea of the shocking turn the evening was about to take.

As chaos and panic swept the streets of Dallas Thursday night, Shaw and several other fencers and their families from around the nation found themselves huddled together in a kitchen to await news.

There were some in the kitchen who sustained minor injuries in their mad dash for safety.

Children were crying.

Some began to scream.

As the minutes ticked by, Shaw and others waited out their terrifying ordeal before being allowed back to their hotels.

He has now begun to reflect on those who stood out during the situation and the overall state of life in America today.

After the announcement

Shaw — the owner of the Fairfield School of Fencing — was among the group of champion fencers from around the country attending the event at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas last week.

Not giving much thought to the announcement he had just made, Shaw and others decided to head over to the sports bar where free pool was expected to keep the youth in attendance occupied while everyone ordered late dinners.

Shaw said as soon as he ordered he heard the gunshots.

“People started running and stepping on each other — it was hysteria, mass hysteria,” he said.

Shaw said his first instinct was to hide under a bar stool, but then decided to run outside toward a nearby beer garden. That’s when he saw at least 20 police officers with assault rifles who warned Shaw and the others he was with to go back inside.

It was inside the kitchen at the restaurant where Shaw and many others spent the duration of the mass casualty situation that claimed the life of five police officers and injured seven others.

In the kitchen

“A SWAT guy came in to look at everyone — I guess to see if any of us was the shooter,” Shaw said.

After the officer left, many people toward the rear of the group crowded into the kitchen became more upset.

“People at the back of the crowd started screaming. People were bleeding. They’d been stepped on. They’d lost their shoes… it was very confusing to hear all that screaming,” Shaw said.

The general state of panic, Shaw believes, led several people in his surrounding area to injure themselves and others as they reacted.

Luke Conway, 44, of Mishawaka, Indiana, also was in the kitchen with his family. His daughter, Josephina “JoJo,” is a 12-year-old fencer who was competing in two tournaments at the championship. Conway was grateful for the presence of people like Shaw, who helped calm his daughter in that kitchen Thursday night.

Like others, Conway had gone to the restaurant to eat a late meal when tragedy struck outside. He said everyone was just finishing their food when everything escalated swiftly.

“I knew there was a peaceful protest and then I heard gunfire and heard there was a shooter,” Conway said. “There were so many conflicting things people were talking about. I knew it was a grave situation — very tense.”

Quietly, heroes emerge

Cramped with the others in the kitchen, Conway said his daughter was very upset and Shaw helped calm her down, telling her stories about other fencers who started out at her age and went on to become great champions.

“Being able to see him being calm and see me being calm helped quite a bit,” Conway said

Conway also said he was very impressed with the staff that gathered in the kitchen with the frightened crowd.

“The servers were amazing, very calm and handing out waters,” Conway said.

Eventually, Shaw said the police told them they had suspects cornered and the group was told to leave, but to walk in a certain direction. Shaw said he had to get to the Hyatt Regency, where he was staying. He walked as briskly in the direction of the hotel as possible.

“It was mayhem,” said Shaw. “Kids were crying. We knew somebody was shooting, but I didn’t know what was really happening until I got back to the hotel room. I knew something amazingly horrible had happened – not just some guy shooting. The police presence was insane.”

Shaw said helicopters were in the air with lights shining down into the surrounding neighborhoods.

The group that journeyed back to the Hyatt Regency with Shaw were all fencers and their families – all associated with the championship that was taking place. At the hotel, Shaw finally saw the extent of the event that had overtaken the city of Dallas, and he learned just how much danger he and the others had actually been in.

“At the hotel, I heard people were dead and the number of police officers kept growing as we got more snippets,” Shaw said.

Upon reflection

Less than 24 hours after the incident, as Shaw gave an account of his experience, he said it wasn’t so much the danger that is sticking with him as the compassionate response of the police while so many others panicked.

“The police presence was just massive,” Shaw said.

A woman in the kitchen had cut her head and a police officer took the time to aid the wound in the midst of the chaos.

Shaw said he believes he was one of those who was able to remain calm in an otherwise hysterical situation.

“I was just trying to keep my focus and remain as calm as possible in case I needed to dodge a madman,” Shaw said.

The remaining portion of the fencing championship was cancelled and Shaw decided to come home right away.

Driving back to Shreveport on Friday, Shaw said everything was smooth and easy once he left Dallas, which was still closed off in large portions due to the size of the crime scene.

He has since had the opportunity to reflect on what happened Thursday night and he worries that things like the Dallas incident are becoming all-too-frequent.

“It appears to be something that’s here to stay. I feel that turning things to anger is not a good way to deal with things – there are better ways to problem solve and make changes,” Shaw said. “I’m sorry we don’t have more people that feel that way.”

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The Boston Globe – Joseph L. Levis Obituary

Joseph L. Levis, Olympic fencer loved to dance, 99

By Gloria Negri, Globe Staff – June 11, 2005

Whether he was fencing in the Olympics as a young man or dancing the tango in competitions in his old age, Joseph L. Levis cut a dashing figure. Six feet tall, the onetime Olympian and fencing coach at MIT never lost his fit figure and competitive spirit.

He was so quick, said his son Robert L. of Miami, that “he could catch a fork that fell from the table before it reached the floor. He could grab flies in midair.”

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