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Our Mission

VRI offers épée training for beginners, intermediate and elite fencers, including modern pentathlon. We help all our fencers to achieve their potential: whether it’s getting fit, competing in local championships, or taking it all the way to the Olympics!

Our History

VRI was founded in 1949 by three Hungarian 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, making it 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, moved to Punt Rd Oval in 2011, and to our current home at 141 Burnley St in Richmond in 2022.

Our Facilities

VRI fencing hall is fitted with a hi-tech training surface for fencers. In the heart of Melbourne’s sports precinct, VRI Fencing Club is located at Burnley St Richmond and is Melbourne’s most central fencing club and is easily accessible via tram, bike, bus, and car.

Our Olympians

Helsinki 1952 – John Fethers
Melbourne 1956  – Les Fadgyas, Les Kovacs, Alex Martonffy, Sandor Szoke, Neville Sayers*
Rome 1960  – Zoltan Okalyi, Neville S
Tokyo 1964 – Russell Hobby, Alex Martonffy, Laszlo Tornallyay
Mexico City 1968  – Russell Hobby
Munich 1972  – Ernest Simon, Christine McDougall
Montreal 1976  – Ernest Simon, Helen Smith
Moscow 1980  – Helen Smith
Los Angeles 1984  – Helen Smith
Seoul 1988  – Robert Davidson
Barcelona 1992  – Scott Arnold, Robert Davidson
Atlanta 1996  – Sarah Osvath
Sydney 2000  – Gerard Adams, Evelyn Halls. Joanna Halls, Nick Heffernan, David Nathan, Kitty Chiller,* Robert McGregor*
Athens 2004  – Evelyn Halls, Seamus Robinson
Beijing 2008   – Joanna Halls, Amber Parkinson, Angela Darby*


* Modern Pentathlon

Our Committee

VRI Fencing Club is a not-for-profit incorporated association run by a committee on behalf of its members. 


President - Mhairi Nicolson-Biggs


Secretary - Imme Kaschner

Treasurer - Samuel Gould
Member - Gerry Adams 

Member - Darcy MacCuspie



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