East Bay fencers part of growing Northern California trend
on December 10, 2010
Although fencing is often thought of as an East Coast sport for the elite, the East Bay Fencers Gym in downtown Oakland is helping to disprove this long-held understanding of this somewhat obscure sport.
Owned by Abdul Habek, a former professional soccer player and high-level fencer himself, the gym has filled the location’s space for approaching four years, and is part of a growing culture of fencers in Northern California. There are more than 20 gyms like it around the northern region of the state.
Among Habek’s top fencers are Keith Lichten, a near-Olympian a few cycles back, who still ranks in the top ten nationally at age 37, and Matthias and Thibault Philippine, two 14-year-old twin phenom brothers. Both the Philippine brothers rank in the top ten in their age bracket nationally, and have goals of the Olympics down the road. For now, the two will compete for spots in the Junior Olympic Qualifier, for competitors 20 years of age and younger, this weekend in San Francisco.
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