50 years of fencing lands man in the P.E.I. Sport Hall of Fame

The UPEI Fencing Club started because a young man wanted someone to fence with, and this year Lothar Zimmerman is being recognized for keeping the club going for 50 years.

'It was rather selfish in a way'

Lothar Zimmerman has been running the fencing club, first at Prince of Wales College and then at UPEI, for 50 years. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

The UPEI Fencing Club started because a young man wanted someone to fence with, and this year Lothar Zimmerman is being recognized for keeping the club going for 50 years.

Zimmerman, now 77 years old and still leading the club, will be inducted into the P.E.I. Sport Hall of Fame on Friday.

"I wanted to create opponents for myself," he said about his reason for starting the club in the 1960s.

"So it was rather selfish in a way. In order for me to fence I had to create opponents and that's how it all started."

The club now includes young fencers as well as university students. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Zimmerman came to Canada from Germany with his parents in 1955. As a student at McMaster University he co-founded the fencing club there. When he came to P.E.I. to teach German at what was then Prince of Wales College he found there was no one to fence with.

The college athletic director agreed to fund the launch of a club, and 50 years later it's still going, now at UPEI, as is Zimmerman. Countless hundreds of students have passed through the club in that time.

'You inspired us'

In one incident that Zimmerman takes particular pride in, he learned he has also inspired generations of fencers. While at the Canada Games in Whitehorse, a boy approached him and handed him a gift of smoked salmon with a card.

"The little note said we did fencing with you many years ago. You inspired us and we have transferred this enthusiasm to the sport to our kids," said Zimmerman.

"This particular boy was on the B.C. team. That felt good. That's great for a coach or a teacher."

Zimmerman said being named to the Sport Hall of Fame is an outstanding honour, and he thanked the people who nominated him and who made the final decision.

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With files from Island Morning