27/10/2020- Member

Celebrating Black History Month – James Williams

BF celebrates Black History Month with Board Member James Williams. Read about his roles in fencing, including as a three-time Olympian, and discover what Black History Month means to him. 

October is Black History Month in the UK, an annual month that celebrates and reflects on Black history, arts and culture, as well as recognising the achievements and roles of Black people in shaping history.

To celebrate Black History Month, we asked some of our black community members to tell us more about themselves and their lives in fencing, as well as what the month means to them and how Black history has shaped their lives.


James, How are you involved in fencing? What does this mean you do?

I’m a Coach, Board Member and Team Manager.


How did you get started in fencing?

I was ‘gently’ introduced to the sport by an Army Fencing Master who was a World War 2 Veteran.


What three words would you use to describe your involvement in fencing? Rewarding, Camaraderie, Inspiring


What is your favourite thing about fencing?

You learn something new every session matter how long you have done the sport.


Can you tell us the most unusual thing you’ve done as part of your fencing life?

I’ve done a few strange things. Footwork training on the sand at Barcelona Beach during the ’92 Olympics stands out.


What is your proudest fencing achievement?

Hard to say really. I suppose being the first GB male senior sabre fencer to make the quarter-finals of a World Cup stands out, but competing in 3 consecutive Olympics is probably proudest.


Where were you born and brought up?

Huddersfield West Yorkshire born and bred.


What does Black History Month mean to you?

A time for reflection and celebration.


How has Black History shaped your life?

When I was young, the role models on TV and the media in general, were all athletes ( track and field, boxing and some footballers) it was uncommon for black people to be celebrated for wider contributions to society. Learning about the wider contributions of black people across the globe to scientific discovery, the arts and politics was an eye-opener.


What three words would you use to describe Black History Month?

Pivotal, Controversial, Essential


Who is your biggest inspiration? Are there any influential Black role models in your life?

Mohammad Ali the boxer, the greatest ever. (And of course my mum! 92 and still going strong).


Who is someone making Black History today?

I think all people of colour are leading the charge.


If people could watch, read or listen to one thing this month to understand more about Black History what would you suggest, and why?

I would suggest ‘13 minutes to the Moon‘ (BBC iPlayer podcast) and ‘Hidden Figures‘ about the African American women mathematicians who were pivotal to the US space programme.


Complete the sentence…“When I’m not involved with fencing I am…”

…”Working my socks off!”


What would it surprise people to know about you?

I like making Apple crumble!


More: Read more about James – he was recently elected to the board of BF. 



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