LAUSANNE, Switz., August 17, 2021—The FIE is saddened to learn of the passing of Anthony “Buckie” Leach, USA Fencing Hall of Fame member and national women’s foil coach, on August 14, 2021, at the age of 62. He led U.S. women’s foil at the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games and his athletes took four senior team medals at the Senior World Championships, including a gold in 2018 in Wuxi, China.
Mr. Leach devoted his life to fencing and was the first U.S. coach to produce an American world champion. After beginning the sport at age 12, he became a coach at age 20. He earned his fencing master’s certificate from the American Fencing Academy in 1979.
In 1981, Mr. Leach built the Rochester, New York Fencing Centre producing national, world and Olympic athletes. In 2001, he joined Fencers Club in New York City, where he continued to develop world fencers. In 2016, he also joined the Notre Dame University fencing team staff, coaching its foil team to multiple NCAA U.S. national titles in individual and team events. His students included recent Tokyo 2020 foil medallists Lee Kiefer (individual women’s gold) and Nick Itkin (team men’s bronze).
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Leach coached numerous athletes and the U.S. team, including Iris Zimmermann, who became the first U.S. fencer to win a World Championship title in any weapon with a gold in individual cadet women’s foil in 1995, followed by winning the Junior World Championship title in 1999. Then, also in 1999 under Mr. Leach’s coaching, Ms. Zimmermann earned the first-ever Senior World Championship medal (bronze) for a U.S. fencer. In 2011, his student, Nzingha Prescod, won the individual junior women’s foil gold medal at the Junior and Cadet World Championships, and then a bronze medal at the 2015 Senior World Championships.
After Tokyo 2020, Mr. Leach had announced his retirement from USA Fencing and Notre Dame.
“Our hearts are broken at the loss of U.S. women’s foil team Coach Buckie Leach just two weeks after leading the squad at this fifth Olympic Games”, stated USA Fencing on social media.
On behalf of the world fencing family, the FIE extends its deepest condolences during this difficult time to Buckie Leach’s family and friends, as well as USA Fencing and the Pan American Fencing Confederation.