History of VRI

VRI Fencing Club is one of Australia’s most successful fencing clubs.

VRI was founded in 1949 by three Hungarians railway workers who were members of the Victorian Railways Institute. After immigrating to Melbourne, sabreurs Andy Szakall, Sandor Szoke and Les Fagyas saw the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games as an opportunity to compete for their new country.

In the 60 years since, VRI produced 26 Olympians who competed at 15 successive Olympic Games from 1952-2008. VRI Fencing Club is the most consistent and highest performing club in Australian fencing history.

Founder Andy Szakall became VRI’s senior coach and remained active with the club until his death in 1988. Over subsequent decades, VRI produced a number of elite level fencers including Olympians Maître John Fethers, Greg Benko, Helen Smith, Evelyn and Jo Halls, Seamus Robinson, and Gerry Adams. Our current coaches and members continue the tradition of national and international success.

VRI was based for many years at the Grand Ballroom at Flinders Street Station. After the Victorian Railways Institute closed in 1984, the club was located at a range of premises in inner Melbourne, and in 2011 VRI moved to our current venue at the Punt Road Oval in Richmond.