Ramón Fonst Segundo: First Latin American / Cuban Olympic Medalist


This article by Marlén González (CiberCuba, 2015) features Ramón Fonst Segundo, who was born and died in Havana, Cuba (August 31, 1883-September 10, 1959). He is considered to be the first Latin American and first Cuban Olympic medalist. According to EcuRed, he was known as “El Zurdo” [The Lefthanded One] and “El nunca Segundo” [“The one who never comes in second,” a play on his maternal last name, Segundo]. Having won 125 medals and 25 trophies throughout his career, he earned the reputation as the best Cuban fencer of all time. Fonst continued to be involved in sports, serving as the president of the Cuban National Olympic Committee from 1941 to 1946, and as a government advisor on physical education (sportsreference.com). [See my translation of the CiberCuba article below.]

Ramón Fonst was born in Havana in 1883. Although he spent much of his childhood and youth in France, where he learned fencing, he always represented Cuba in all the events in which he competed. At only 11 years of age, he won the foil championship of France. From that moment until his last competition, with 55 years, he was reaping success, fame, and making fencing history for his native country.

As a 17-year-old youth, he became a world champion of épée at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.  Thus, he became the first Cuban and first Latin American to be champion of the Olympic competitions.

Four years later, at the Third World Olympic Games in St. Louis, in 1904, he won the gold medals for both the foil and épée events.

In 1915, at the World Exposition of San Francisco he faced and defeated about 100 opponents and he won world titles for the épée, foil and saber events. The press, maddened by his scores and mastery, identified him as someone truly extraordinary and unusual.

In 1924, at age 41, Fonst was again competing at World Olympics in the city where he became the first Latin American Olympic player. He only reach the semi-finals; however, this was not enough to dampen the spirits of an athlete of his stature, and two years later he managed to win the three gold medals of the individual events in saber, foil and épée at the First Central American and Caribbean Games, held in 1926 in Mexico, as well as another team gold for foil. [He also won gold medals at the 1930 Central American and Caribbean Games.]

He conquered his last great competition and set of prizes at 55 years of age, at the Fourth Central American and Caribbean Games, where he obtained gold and silver as a member of the épée and foil teams, respectively.

His successes and mastery, as well as the 125 medals and 25 trophies he won throughout his career, have earned him a reputation as one of the 100 best Cuban athletes in history and the best fencer of all time.

For original article (in Spanish), see https://www.cibercuba.com/lecturas/el-primer-latinoamericano-medallista-olimpico-el-cubano-ramon-fonst

Also see https://www.ecured.cu/Juegos_Ol%C3%ADmpicos and http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/fo/ramon-fonst-1.html

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