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News 12 Brooklyn: Ethan Kushnerik Wins International Gold in Poland

Ethan Kushnerik, 10, is part of a group of fencers who train in Coney Island. (4/4/14)

April 4, 2014

BROOKLYN, NY – A young fencer from Brooklyn is now a world champion after winning an international tournament last week.

Ethan Kushnerik, 10, is part of a group of fencers who train in Coney Island. He just brought home gold from a tournament in Poland, where he beat 150 other kids his age.

The Mill Basin fifth grader is modest, but he and the other young athletes at Coney Island’s New York Fencing Academy work hard at their sport.

When you ask Kushnerik the secret to winning, his answer is simple. He said, “Don’t give up. If you’re losing, don’t give up.”



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Courier Life’s Brooklyn Daily
By Nichelle Henry
April 3, 2014

Sharp kid: Ten-year-old Ethan Kushnerik of Mill Basin, center, took the top prize at an international fencing competition held in Poland over the weekend. Photo by Vadim Kushnerik
A 10-year-old Mill Basin boy has shown the world his mettle — and it’s a fencing sword.

Superlative swordsman Ethan Kushnerik came in first at the 37th annual International Children’s Fencing Tournament Challenge, held in Wroclaw, Poland, March 27–31.

The five-day tournament is considered one of the premier fencing contests in the world, drawing 1,400 competitors under age 15 from 21 different countries.

Kushnerik was one of 19 kids representing the United States, and he won one of the two gold medals taken home by Americans.

He crossed swords with 142 fencers from around the world in back-to-back matches, fighting for seven hours straight, and he remained undefeated.

After the last competitor met his blade, Kushnerik didn’t even realize that he had just won the gold, because he was so focused on the swordplay.

“I was just concentrating on hitting may target,” he said.

En Garde!: Ten-year-old champion swordsman Ethan Kushnerik, at left, goes on the attack in an international fencing competition held March 27–31 in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Vadim Kushnerik

It was that mental discipline that made Kushnerik an international champion, according to his coach.

“For 10-year-old athletes, competing at such a big, international event, it’s a great accomplishment to be able to maintain such a strong physical and mental focus untill the end,” said Misha Mokretsov, head coach at the New York Fencing Academy in Coney Island.

This was Kushnerik’s first international competition, though he had also recently won silver and bronze medals at the North American Cup in Nashville, Tenn.

Kushnerik said his biggest challenge in Wroclaw was adapting to the various fencing styles of his European opponents, who come out of different traditions. Mokretsov agreed that dealing with the variety of fighting techniques is what make international tournaments so demanding.

“This was a world event of the highest magnitude,” said Mokretsov. “You need to be very flexible and able to adjust to different fencing styles.”



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A 10-Year-Old Boy From Brooklyn Is The Winner of the International Children’s Fencing Tournament, After Competing In Poland.
Ethan Kushnerik Is Used To Having Success, Regardless Of The Circumstances

CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reports
April 4, 2014 6:46 PM

NEW YORK (CBS NewYork) — He brought home the gold.

A 10-year-old from Mill Basin, Brooklyn recently took Wroclaw, Poland by storm, grabbing top honors at the 37th annual International Children’s Fencing Tournament Challenge.

Ethan Kushnerik competed against some of the best fencers in the world, and did so under some pretty unusual circumstances, CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported Friday.

Ethan he likes to play around with his brothers and sister, enjoys math and art and, oh yeah, he’s pretty good at a very difficult sport.

“When people win in fencing they just scream,” he said.

Ethan was one of 19 children representing the United States, and competed with 142 fencers from all over the world in his category.

He said he trains four hours a day five days a week.

And he has a lot of medals.

Not bad for a kid who only picked up the sport two years ago.

Above Ethan’s medals is a sign that reads “never give up,” something he certainly didn’t do even as he dealt with a bout of the stomach flu on the morning of the international competition.

“By the time we got to the elevator, which is not that far, maybe a few steps, Ethan was out of breath,” said Vadim Kushnerik, Ethan’s father.

The elder Kushnerik said he wasn’t so sure that his son would compete, let alone go undefeated.

“Through the whole competition I kept not feeling good and I kind of didn’t even know what was happening,” Ethan said.

But in the end the humble, young boy came out on top.

“I’m very proud of Ethan’s accomplishments. I’m very proud watching him work hard,” Vadim Kushnerik said.

Ethan offered the following piece of advice to other would-be champs:

“Don’t give up on your fencing,” he said.

Even if you have the stomach flu.

Ethan said he hopes to pick up some more medals, and, who knows, maybe one day we’ll see him at the Olympics.




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Published Friday, December 27, 2013 in Home Reporter News

By Jaime DeJesus

Born in France, but trained in Brooklyn, 16-year-old fencer Romain Cannone has lived a life full of hard work, inspiration and lots of traveling. In November, all that culminated in Cannone winning the bronze medal during the European Cadet Circuit, a competition that featured 171 fencers from 15 different countries.

Romain Cannone and Coach Misha Mokretsov
Romain Cannone and his coach Misha Mokretsov

Despite his winning performance, Cannone admitted to having some jitters during the tournament, which took place in Chalons, France. “I was very nervous. I almost threw up. I was worried about doing bad. It was very stressful. You want the coach to do well too,” he explained. “But then I believed in myself and in the end, it was worth it.”

Cannone also led his teammates to a silver medal finish the following day of the Circuit. He represented team France. “It was a great feeling because it’s hard at first since we’re from different places,” he explained. “It’s usually an individual sport. So working as a team was hard. But we were able to move on from that and think as a team. It was great.”

He attributes his success to both his coach, Misha Mokretsov and the New York Fencing Academy in Coney Island, where he’s been training for years. “They pretty much taught me everything,” Cannone said. “The work has been worth it. (My coach) knows me very well. He knows how to get me focused.”

Along with his success, Cannone has also enjoyed traveling to different countries and meeting new people. “I met Italian friends as well as Belgians and Germans,” he noted. “You get to meet many people from different countries. It’s very diverse and was a good experience.”

Cannone got into fencing five years ago thanks to a family member’s love for the sport. “My cousin was in a fencing camp in New York and I had nothing better to do so I decided to try to fence,” he recalled. “And I ended up really liking it. It was fun going with him.” Competing with others also sparked his passion for the sport.

Once his love for the sport grew, so did Cannone’s work ethic. He currently practices 13-hour days four times a week. “I do stretching, cardio and weights,” he said. Stressing, “Everything matters.”

In addition to keeping fit, Cannone also emphasized the importance of the mental aspect of the sport. “Many things are involved,” he said. “How you strategize and figure out your opponent by seeing what they do and how you can use that, like letting him attack you and get him when he’s not ready.”

Though he is still young, Cannone enjoys fencing so much that he’s considering a future in the sport. “I’m thinking about continuing fencing,” he said. “It’s been fantastic so far. It never gets tiring or old.” That may be a wise decision. On December 17, he won the Cadets North American Cup in Dallas.

“It’s been like really extraordinary. I’m very proud of myself and also my coach for training me so well. We train a lot. We deserved it,” said Cannone. “If I work hard, I can achieve things.”