She became a fencing coach at the age of 18 and is deeply interested in anthropology and cultures. We talk to Mercedes Baptiste Halliday as part of our celebration of Black History Month.
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, we asked some of the members of our community to tell us more about themselves and their lives in fencing.
Mercedes, how are you involved in fencing? What does this mean you do?
I am currently involved as a coach in Muslim Girls Fence. I like teaching people how amazing fencing is and introducing people to it. It’s inspiring to see how the women fall in love with the sport. I am also part of Camden Fencing Club. I am an epeeist and coach a bit of foil and sabre.
How did you get started in fencing?
I started when I was about 14 years old, transitioning from athletics and started fencing at Brixton Fencing Club.
What is your favourite thing about fencing?
I like fencing because it is a very unique and beautiful sport, it is controlled yet aggressive and explosive. I like feeling a sword in my hand, and I feel very powerful on the piste.
What is your proudest fencing achievement?
It has to be becoming a coach when I was only 18 years old. With a lack of female coaches and black coaches in the sport, I felt proud to become a coach at a young age.
Where were you born and brought up?
In Clapham and Lambeth in London 2000.
Who is your biggest inspiration? / Are there any influential Black role models in your life?
Currently, it is Dennis Williams, a painter and archaeologist. I share his interest in being able to mix academia, sport and creativity. I really like the fact that people can be multifaceted.
If people could watch, read or listen to one thing this month to understand more about Black History what would you suggest, and why?
The BBC series by David Olusoga ‘Black and British’. It redefines what it means to be black and British and gives an understanding of the long history of being black in Britain.
Complete the sentence…“When I’m not involved with fencing I am…”
“…currently studying Archaeology and Anthropology, and am interested also in photography and art. I would like to be an archaeologist and filmmaker. I am interested in studying artefacts and cultures.”
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