News Flash: George Ganchev

Prof. George Ganchev passed away 19th August 2019.


There is so much I could record of my memories of George as his accomplishments were many and varied. Foremost he was a superb fencer, a specialist in Sabre and a fine coach. His performances on the piste in combat were exceptional, winning many trophies. Off the piste his
interests included music, poetry , writing , film and enjoying life to the full. He was blessed with a very handsome 6ft.7in. frame, agility in movement , which helped him cope with most opponents on and off the piste. In addition , in his later years, he strove to gain in politics the post of prime minister of his home country , Bulgaria. This was never achieved.
He won the World Professional Sabre Title in 1970 representing Great Britain. in the Championships held in London at Crystal Palace .He won again in 1974 at Karlsruhe, Germany and was second at Geneva in the 1978
Championships-Outstanding achievements . I was required to referee (then Preside) at Karlsruhe over some of the individual sabre fights. I recollect in one bout, George in action against a rather crude , heavy handed German sabreur (if you hit hard enough, it will be seen, heard and the opponent
will cry out) being hit around the back of the neck – painful. No doubt all readers will have been aware of this at some point ! George stood back and waited for the next attack. He was a stylish and smooth fencer but he unleashed a prime parry which wrapped up the opponents blade to tierce leaving his target wide open and the riposte came with great force, precision and speed and passion – cut to chest . I can even right now hear the crack as it landed and the response of the opponent who fell to the floor. Not for the faint hearted. There was silence ……. and then applause. Those were the days . I recall, when preparing for the 1978 Geneva Fencing Masters World Championships that we practised together during which time we jointly represented the Academy in a match against the Army at
Sandhurst. There was a moment when we attacked each other simultaneously – in those days with fleche – and his front foot landed on
top of mine explosively and not until I removed my right shoe did I discover that the pain was coming from my big toenail which had been torn off in that encounter. A reminder for those preparing for events not to
get too excited and get carried away with the moment. It can spoil what might come later. As a coach, I never saw him in action. I am of the opinion that what and how he taught his students was how he perceived the way forward with competition in particular and winning. He was an asset to the Academy whilst he was living and working in the U.K. I miss him and our
friendly discussions whilst listening to him – recite poems and lyrics that he had written. He did audition at one point for the part of James Bond in one of the movies but was unsuccessful. He lived a long and full life and my deepest regrets go to his family left behind.

David Austin

(Written for the academy News issue 102)