coney island fencing

fencing, IN THE NEWS

Who is Romain Cannone, the Olympic champion that nobody expected at the Olympics?

July 25, 2021
by Ijaz Ibrahim

PORTRAIT – The French swordsman has not experienced a trajectory like the others to become Olympic champion at 24 years old. His first medal on the international scene in individual. The most beautiful.

Special envoy to Tokyo

He lived his childhood in Brazil, then in the United States

If Romain Cannone was indeed born in France on April 12, 1997, near Boulogne-Billancourt, he did not stay there very long, then following his parents to Brazil to live his first school years in kindergarten. Before another great upheaval and a departure for New York, where his parents decide to launch a macaroon shop. And it is in the Big Apple that he will discover fencing at the age of 9, under the leadership of his cousin Zoey who pushes him to try foil, before becoming a star of his school. of Coney Island, the New York Fencing Academy (NYFA).

He has a Ukrainian mentor

The one who shaped the not very academic but very spectacular fencing of Cannone is called Misha Mokretsov. The meeting between the two occurs in 2010, when the Frenchman is still only 13 years old. At the time, it was more intended for the practice of foil, before changing to épée, convinced by Mokretsov, a former silver medalist in his country, Ukraine. Together, they will continue their journey, which made Cécile Cannone, Romain’s mother, say on the NYFA website: “Mokretsov is a true fencing enthusiast and he knows how to pass this on to his students. But the two of them are actually much more than student teachers to each other. It’s a very deep friendship, and he gives Romain great advice in many areas of his life.“

He shouldn’t have played his games

An Olympic title sometimes comes down to little. Initially selected as a replacement for the team event, Cannone was not expected to compete in the individual competition in Tokyo. An honor that should have gone to Daniel Jerent (30), both reigning Olympic champion and world champion in 2019, both times in the team event. Except that the latter, targeted by an investigation by the French Agency for the Fight against Doping (AFLD) for a positive control for a diuretic, Dorzolamide, was finally ruled out by the French Fencing Federation. A decision taken according to an extremely simple precautionary principle: by keeping Jerent in the team, the Federation took the risk, one day, of losing their possible medal on the green carpet if the swordsman was found guilty (which is not the case. case for now). A principle which therefore made Cannone happy.

He has never been on an international individual podium before.

The resident of Insep, and member of the VGA Saint-Maur (Val-de-Marne) club, only points to 47e world rank. Far behind his two compatriots present in Tokyo, Yannick Borel (6e) and Alexandre Bardenet (11e). Suffice to say that imagining him going so far was a colossal surprise. Especially since he owed his selection to his team performances, and not to those in individual, to say the least since he had never climbed on an international podium without his little comrades by his side. His best result was a 7e place at a World Cup event in Vancouver on February 8, 2019. But with the health crisis, world fencing has gone almost a year and a half without competition, which has undoubtedly made it possible to reshuffle the cards and open up the field of possibilities. Cannone is the best example of this with his formidable feat.

He is studying in Master

Throughout his career, Cannone never stopped studying, especially in the United States where he was at university. Since his return to France from Insep, he has also joined a Parisian school, SKEMA, where he follows a “Master in Audit, Management Control and Information Systems“. “I very much appreciate the understanding and support of SKEMA on my double project: high level athlete and higher education», He explained on the school website. “I benefit from adjustments to my course, shifting periods of internship… This allows me to devote myself fully to the periods of preparation and competition. This flexibility and the support of my teachers are a real plus. I live and train at INSEP and I jump in the RER A as soon as possible to join my classes.“

fencing, IN THE NEWS

Tokyo Olympics: “He had trouble holding the sword at the start”, Ukrainian coach Romain Cannone tells of the youth of the Olympic champion

July 26, 2021
by archyde

Tokyo Olympics: “He had trouble holding the sword at the start”, Ukrainian coach Romain Cannone tells of the youth of the Olympic champion

That’s it, the apprentice fencers have gone to bed, Misha Mokretsov has a little time to give us. “I run a summer camp with kids in New York State, the days are busy. But we did not miss Romain’s victory. Posted in front of television, the current students of the Ukrainian technician were able to admire the coronation of one of his former proteges. Gold medalist and surprise of the day on Sunday in épée at the Tokyo Olympics, Romain Cannone was introduced to fencing with this trainer, whose influence he spoke of just after stepping off the podium. A slice of life together in Brooklyn that Misha Mokretsov agreed to tell us about.

When he enrolled in fencing at 12, what state of mind is Romain Cannone in?

MISHA MOKRETSOV. He came to see how it was going, what the lessons consisted of. He was a boy who was looking for a nice activity, in search of a passion. He quickly progressed, and managed to reach the 32nd finals of a national competition. It meant that he had something in him, it is not given to everyone. But he absolutely had to settle certain things.

Which ones?

He was a very small and thin child. He had trouble holding the sword at first. He faced tougher opponents who weren’t going to give him a chance to express himself. So, I undertook to make him work physically, to make him capable of holding a match. He was smaller than the others and therefore had less elongation. He had to compensate with his speed and flexibility, a bit like he did at the Olympics.

He explained that your methods were strict and that he had had a bit of trouble with you …

The Ukrainian school is a physical school (smile). I insisted a lot on the points he had to work on so that he could continue to progress.

Did he fear opponents taller than himself?

(He cuts). Not at all. He never walked away. Romain, he has a heart. He was a very hardworking child.

Does the fencer you saw win the Olympic title look a lot like the one you trained until he was 20?

There is more maturity, but I see a lot of commonalities. He is a player, but has gained experience which allows him to correct the mistakes he could make. When he left the United States, he was already a confirmed junior.

Did he tell you about his Olympic dream which drove him to leave the country for France five years ago?

Yes, and I want to say he was very brave. The last year here he went to college in Connecticut. And I could tell it was not right at all. He found the level of training he was doing next to his studies bad, he could see that it was getting him nowhere. So he decided to go and try his luck in France. It was a difficult decision to make. He could have stayed in the United States, given it all up, pursued his business studies, then his life here when he joined a company in New York. But no, he took the idea to the end. He was so passionate.

After his gold medal, he explained that he was angry with the United States for not granting him American citizenship to fight in the American jersey …

Here, the federation does not have the power to naturalize someone. So, they wrote to the immigration services, but they must have decided that it was not worth the trouble. Afterwards, I think he shouldn’t have any regrets. If he had stayed here, he probably wouldn’t be an Olympic champion today. The structures are not the same, it is complicated to have state support when you are an adult, and the level is not the same. At the time, he had managed to convince the French federation of his level by going to participate in a competition there. For them, it was an unusual profile, that of a kid who learned fencing in New York.

Have you had him on the phone since his Olympic title?

No. But when he learned that he was selected to compete in the Olympics, I was the one he called first to announce it. It lasted five minutes, he was in tears on the phone. I am very proud that he wanted to share this news with me first.

fencing, IN THE NEWS

Meet the Coney Island-Trained French Fencing Olympian Romain Cannone

By French Morning Staff
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Meet the Coney Island-Trained French Fencing Olympian Romain Cannone

The small group of young fencers can’t take it anymore. On July 25, in the early morning, on a bus somewhere near Storm King (NY), where they are at summer camp, they explode with joy when they see Romain Cannone become an Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo. “Since the night before, they were up until late to follow Romain. It didn’t matter if they had to get up early the next day! Romain, for us, is a legend,” smiles coach Misha Mokretsov, who runs the fencing club to which this happy contingent of 70 budding sportsmen belongs, and to which the champion belonged when he was a teenager.

This Ukrainian fencer is particularly proud of the improbable performance of the Frenchman, who went from the 47th place in the world to its top tier: it is he who gave Cannone the taste for fencing a little more than ten years ago. At the time, Canonne was only 12 years old and living in New York, where his parents had moved to open Macaron Café, a French macaron store. He then trained with Misha Mokretsov at the Brooklyn Fencing Center, where the master gives classes. He followed him in 2010 when he launched his own school, the New York Fencing Academy, near Coney Island, where most of his students live. “At first, Romain was just one of many students. He was pretty weak and skinny. He had trouble holding the blades over time and staying in guard position over the length, but he was very elastic and creative. He didn’t just do what he was told. He was able to make combinations himself based on the general direction I gave him.”

A friendship quickly developed between the coach and his young disciple, who was determined to improve. Their families became closer, and the wife of “Coach Misha” provided “moral support” to the perfectionistic and “sensitive” young man when he suffered a setback. “He wanted so much to do well and lived for fencing,” remembers the swordsman. “We did with Romain the work that any athlete must do to prepare: jogging on the Coney Island boardwalk, physical preparation through rafting, skiing. We also did some fishing. I was trying to show him respect and how to be a good person. Which he already was because, having had a French education, he was always very polite!”

It is also Misha Mokretsov who encouraged him to return to France when, at university in the United States, the future champion felt “miserable” not to be able to pursue fencing at a high level. “We came to the conclusion that he had to return to France to go all the way,” says the coach. “He could have stayed in the United States and found a job, but he would have been unhappy. He was passionate about fencing. France and its culture are better for him. In the U.S., we don’t have a very strong support system for adult fencers. Sure, he could have made the U.S. national team, but he would not have reached the level he has today. I am very proud of him. He has sacrificed so much. And besides being an outstanding fencer, he’s a great guy!”

The Frenchman’s consecration is also that of Misha Mokretsov, a former Ukrainian vice-champion and member of the junior national team. Inspired by a friend, he started fencing at age 12 and went to Saint John’s University (Queens) after winning a scholarship. In addition to making the varsity team, he began tutoring to fund his education. “I started getting results, even though I didn’t know how to coach. But because I was young, I was able to communicate my energy to my students, who saw me as a friend,” he says. “Also, I wasn’t super talented. Fencing for me is more of a science than an instinct. It allows me to dissect my movements and explain them easily to others.”

Today, Misha Mokretsov heads two schools, in Coney Island and Port Washington (Long Island), for 6-20 year olds and fencing veterans. He can boast of having trained many budding champions. But Romain Cannone’s Olympic medal is his greatest reward. He was able to speak briefly to the champion on Tuesday 27 July, interrupted constantly by the “congratulations” launched by his students in the background. Some of them have met the Frenchman, who liked to help his former club during competitions in Europe, but most have never seen him. “For us, the greatest reward is to show our cadets and juniors that they can dream even bigger. There is no American Olympic gold medalist in epee. That title is kind of held by Romain. Even though he competed under French colors, he is our fencer!”

CLUB NEWS, Parents

Online Bout Analysis Class with Sebastien Dos Santos – Sunday, May 17

We are excited to announce Sebastien Dos Santos is joining New York Fencing Academy online fencing training for all who are interested.

Sebastien is from St. Genes De Lombaud, France, was coach for U.S. Men’s Epee Team at the 2012 Olympic Games working with Andrey Geva and the U.S. Women’s Epee Team in 2016. Sebastien Dos Santos now is involved with both US men’s and US women’s epee programs during this quad as the Director of Epee program. In his new role, Dos Santos will develop and implement strategic plan to improve the level of epee in the United States.

Sebastien will be leading the online class on Sunday at 1pm and sharing his incredible experience on how to analyze fencing bouts, watch your opponents, what to pay attention to when observing the fencing bouts/opponents.

Join us for this exciting online training opportunity on Sunday May 17, 2020 at 1pm-2pm!

Click here to register for NYFA online fencing classes and for easy instructions on how to join us on Zoom! (

Go NYFA! Happy Fencing!

CLUB NEWS, Parents

Recurring Online Classes & Lessons Start Today

We are excited to begin recurring online classes and private lessons. Classes start today so sign-up now!


REGISTER– Y14 & Above:  SATURDAYS (1-2 pm)

optional: click here to view Schedule in new window

  1. Sign-up for a Zoom account in the students’ name (not the parents)
  2. REGISTER using the links above at least 30 minutes before each class.
  3. Use the “Click Here To Join” link in the confirmation email to join the class 15 minutes before start time.
  4. The fee is $25 per 1-hour class.
  5. If you prepaid this session’s package, there’s no need to pay again.  We will automatically deduct the fee from your balance.
  6. If you need to pay, call Marina (646-644-3032) after you register and at least 30 minutes before class starts to pay by phone.


  • Your coach will give you personal and undivided attention which helps not only to control execution of the exercises, but also allows tailoring of the tasks to each student’s individual needs.
  • To schedule, call Marina (646-644-3032)
  • The fee is $50 per 30-minute private lesson.
  • We are lengthening private lessons during the current situation so students can have extra time to communicate with their coaches, and can allow for any internet issues that might occur.

Go NYFA! Happy Fencing!