SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Race Imboden is known as the “Face of Fencing,” and for good reason.
Not only is he an Olympian and the world’s top-ranked foil fencer, the 22-year-old Brooklyn resident has also garnered considerable prestige for his side profession as a menswear model.
Imboden’s two blossoming careers make for a demanding schedule and expectations, but as the man who has been designated to lead U.S. foil fencing into a new era, Imboden embraces the challenges with the same fervent spirit that fueled his meteoric rise to the top of the rankings.
“When I was younger I played a lot of sports; I was pretty good at all the sports I was doing,” said Imboden, the first U.S. man to win an individual FIE Overall World Cup title, which he did in 2015. “The sport I was the worst at was fencing, but it was the thing I loved to do and I wanted to be good at it.”
Even though Imboden often gets more recognition for modeling than for fencing, he remains fixated on honing his craft and carving out his place in the pantheon of fencing greatness.
“I don’t really think about the modeling, I focus on the fencing,” Imboden said. “Fencing is my number one priority. It’s all game time. I do fencing night and day. I sleep and dream about fencing. If I’m at a fashion show and I have a break, I’ll watch fencing on my phone. The shoots are just something for me to do as a side job. I’d much rather be going to practice.”
Imboden, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, readily acknowledges the pressure that comes with being regarded as the best in the world, but he hopes to use his stardom to encourage others to try their hand at fencing.
“It’s something that I’m passionate about, and I truly do give my all to it,” he said. “For people and for kids to try to recreate this is what I want them to do. I want to see more people fencing. I want people to be like, ‘Wow, look at this guy,’ and then go join a club. That’s my goal.”
The same passion that drives Imboden to be the best was something he needed to learn how to keep in check when he first started competing. More…
© DENNIS BILES