Fencing was an activity assigned to the senior class in the physical education program devised in the 1890s after the building of Lyman Gymnasium. In December 1932 Fred Avis ’35 recruited and coached a team of his fellow students and arranged two informal engagements, which resulted in two victories for Brown, 12-5 against a Y.M.C.A. team and 9-0 against Rhode Island State College. The next year there was a full schedule of matches for both varsity and freshman teams, which included Harvard, M.I.T., and Boston College. The fencing team had winning seasons in 1934 and 1935, but by 1936 the varsity team was reduced to five members, who had to double up in order to have three contenders on each of the sabre, epee, and foils. In 1937 the schedule was expanded to include opponents beyond the Providence and Boston areas, and ended with a 6-3 record. The next year the Brown team was second to Dartmouth in the newly formed New England Fencing Association tournament. The team had an instructor, Antone Sobocinski, from 1939 until 1942, and was first in the New England tournament in 1940 and third in 1941. Fencing ceased in 1943 and was resumed in 1946 with Sobocinski as coach.
In 1963 the men’s Fencing Club under faculty advisor William Silvert for the first time in years scheduled matches with clubs from other New England colleges. The Fencing Club was reestablished in the fall of 1971 through the efforts of Professor Duncan Smith, who borrowed equipment from the Pembroke Fencing Club and attracted eighteen students, eight of whom were still involved by November and being coached by Smith and a special student and sabre fencer, Chuck Dillon. In 1972-73 the number of students interested in fencing had increased to more than eighty. The club moved to Lyman Hall, to Sayles Gymnasium, and finally to the old golf room in Marvel Gymnasium. In 1973 the new club participated in its first meet, winning a scrimmage against Southeastern Massachusetts University. In 1973-74 Brown entered the New England Intercollegiate Fencing League, finished with a 5-4 record and placed fifth in the regionals. Rod Manning ’75 placed second in the regionals and ninth nationally in the epee. Fencing became a coed sport in 1973-74, and the next year the team had twelve men and ten women. Brown was fourth in the New Englands in 1976, had a 7-4 dual meet record and came in fourth in the New Englands in 1977-78, and the next year had a 7-3 dual meet record and took third place in the New Englands. In 1980, the first year that women’s fencing was a varsity (though unfunded) sport, Chris Golde ’82 finished second in the New England tournament. In 1986 Brown hosted the New England Championships at Marvel Gym. Elliot Lilien, an outstanding high school fencing coach, succeeded Duncan Smith as coach in 1986. In his first year the record of the men’s team was 9-5 and that of the women’s team 11-4. The women’s team came in third in the New Englands. In the 1990-91 season the men finished 18-10 and the women 15-9. The men won the New England championship. The epee team was third in the Northeast Regionals, and Scott Aversano ’91 was second in the New Englands and seventh in the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championships. The sabre team won the Cornell Invitational, and Ray Ku ’92 finished seventeenth in the nation in sabre.