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Thread: Paolo Milanoli Interview on Schermaonline (Part Two)

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    Paolo Milanoli Interview on Schermaonline (Part Two)

    This is the second and last part of the Milanoli interview on Schermaonline.com

    http://www.schermaonline.com/scherma...rder=1&thold=0

    The link to the first part of this interview on Fencing.net is

    http://www.fencing101.com/vb/showthread.php?t=19064

    Note: I left out some parts of the interview which cover issues of the Italian fencing environment which are in my opinion too specific for a general audience.


    Milanoli Interview (Part 2 of 2)


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    The world today is going through some tragic times: the frequent terrorist attacks which create a climate of insecurity and tension in general. In your opinion, will all this affect from the organization point of view the world of sport in general and of fencing in particular which has a wide international circuit of competitions? And if it does, how?

    MILANOLI:
    The word "tragic" is not even enough to describe what's going on, and I don't even refer just to the attacks. What really scares me is how we got used to all this. Today, a bomb in an Israeli cafe, or a car bomb with some dead victims doesn't even make an impression, they became things of every day. This feeling of apathy and resignation creates the strange phenomenon of escalation in the shock effect of the attacks. The terrorists have become marketing managers who use for their absurd propaganda the same methods and symbols of success against which their "ideology" is fighting.
    The small size [in terms of popularity] of fencing carries a unique advantage. No terrorist, regardless how crazy or fanatic, will ever choose to sacrifice himself on the bleachers of a fencing tournament risking to end up being the only dead one!


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Fencing, and not only in Italy, has always the problem of not being popular. Many solutions and recipes have been proposed, but so far at least none has proven a really valid one.
    The strategy of the FIE President, M.Roch, seems to be to grow the audience and make it TV friendly through changes, sometimes major ones, to the rules governing the weapons hoping to improve the spectacularity of the sport, or to make it more viewer friendly.
    So far, foil is the weapon which was most hit under this profile, but rumors are going around that epee will also undergo changes, starting with the elimination of the double touch.
    What do you think about Roch policy in this matter and how would you consider such a radical change to epee's rules?

    MILANOLI:
    First of all this wasn't always the case [low popularity of fencing]! I have photographs of fencing final bouts in sold out and smoky (then you could) theaters which lead me to thinking that fencing was popular then. Now, if something gets worse, someone must be responsible, right? The most naive interpretation of Roch's policies is that he wants to expand fencing according to a not better defined geographical model. He "gives incentives" to countries which have never heard anything about fencing before. This may be useful if you want to build a large supporting infrastructure [of popularity]. For a successful recipe you must carefully select each ingredient. Here it seems to me every day someone wakes up with the remedy of the century. They change the rules, they change the infrastructures, they change the masks, they invent new weapons, but we don't see anything new about TV coverage. Maybe we should change some people instead!

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Would you have concrete proposals to put forward to improve the spectacularity of fencing in a wider sense?
    If you could make a wish to Roch, what would you ask him?

    MILANOLI:
    I had a project well based on a fencing platform which was hitched to very popular activities. But aside from the FIE which perceived it as a challenge to their power, I was sabotaged and now just talking about it makes me sad. How much energy, how much money, all wasted...sigh! If I could ask one wish to the 'simpatico' M. Roch? I'd ask him to move on and let someone else give it a try...

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Let's change the subject and move on something which is pretty much neglected but that concerns a rather important category of fencers who deserve respect (if nothing else because they support the various clubs with their dues): the masters [we call them veterans, 40+].
    What do you think of the competitions organized for this category? Do you think there should be any changes? Do you think they should have more visibility? In the end, do you think that we should work towards attracting the older crowd to fencing or the opposite, that the image of not so well toned muscles and creaking joints is not good for fencing and should be avoided?

    MILANOLI:
    The category of veteran fencers is very important and should be an important part of the competitive sport and represent its emotional engine and economical support.
    Unfortunately, since they are children of the same poor mother, they find themselves in situations which are not very different from what we have. I've seen many times parents taking their kids to the club and little by little becoming fencers themselves and continue to fence even after their kids gave up.
    This tells you quite a bit about the potential of a very undervalued sport.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    You are an athlete who is known around the world for your ability to go easily outside the conventional schemes, often with a good bit of irony. You've shown this often, and sometimes you've been severely criticized because of it. Everyone remember your famous mask, but also they talked about you in the Italian Parliament after some of your amusing and a little provoking statements about duels at the time of the World Championships in Seoul in 1999. Don't you think that one of the problems of the fencing world is in this difficulty to open up for a discussion, and why not, to make fun of ourselves?
    Wouldn't it be better to reduce the drama of many situations and laugh about it some time?

    MILANOLI:
    It would be very helpful and not only in fencing.
    I've tried in my career to bring a bit of color into a world that in my opinion is afraid to stand out and be noticed. When Roch saw my mask, he was jumping and laughing like a kid, he was really enthusiastic, but he chose to go to the technical commission which, even though appeared to be enthusiastic, decided, with regret, not to allow it. Nobody has the courage to follow his own feelings, his own dreams. Maybe this is the real problem.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    What do you think about the Montano phenomenon, the only fencer who has been able recently to become a truly popular celebrity? In your opinion is this good or bad for Italian fencing?

    MILANOLI:
    It's good, especially for Montano. It could be good for fencing also if it decided to ride the wave, but it seems to me that nobody capitalized on the idea.
    Other examples of the great appeal of fencing, the Madonna video, the James Bond movie, and the various ad spots (Campari, Sara Assicurazioni, etc.), but nobody ever knows how to take advantage of any of these.


    ...............

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Let's make this assumption: epee is the weapon which has grown and continues to grow because of the nature of the weapon and the number of countries where it is practiced. Assuming this is right, do you think it still makes sense to talk about "epee fencing schools?" Is there a typical style of epee fencing, French, German, or Italian?

    MILANOLI:
    Certainly epee is the weapon with the greatest chance to survive the onslaught of the so called modern sports -- which I personally don't care for -- but which can teach us quite a bit how to package a product appealing to the public and the sponsors. If they can sell something as dumb as WrestlingMania....
    Epee, because of the FIE policy of geographic expansion is spreading everywhere, but I'd say that the various schools continue to maintain their own identity.
    The French school, for various reasons, is the strongest, and in some ways, the most influential. You can see signs of it even in some Latin Americans fencers of medium-low caliber who for whatever reason spent some time in Paris. I personally expect every time I am on the strip with an unknown French or German epeeist the typical basic characteristics of the school from where he comes.


    ..........

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Who is the best Italian epee Maestro today?

    MILANOLI:
    The best epee Maestro is not Italian! His name is Kulksar, he is Hungarian and he was my Maestro. Anyone who can make someone like me world champion, he's got to be on top of his game without any doubt. I'm sorry for all the others!

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    What do you think of Christian Bauer, the French CT of the Italian national saber team? Could there be somewhere a "Bauer" for epee?

    MILANOLI:
    In epee? I hope not! I prefer democracy.
    I don't follow very close the world of saber, but I've heard different opinions about Bauer. At the beginning he was a Saint, today the criticism is growing. It seems to me that there have been results, but it won't last for long.


    ............

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    How do you see the current Italian foil situation, after the break with the CT last fall? [FYI, the men foilists, after the Athens Olympics split from the CT Magro, who continues to be in charge of the women foil program only]

    MILANOLI:
    Here we go again on the topic of fencing schools and the important and difficult role of the CT, who however, has nothing to do with the victories of the athletes. If we had put my grandma in charge of [Italian] women's foil, they would have won the same ... more or less.
    Therefore the secret, maybe, could be in a large part Antonio Di Ciolo [Sanzo's maestro] or something like that... The question remains: are we doing something so that the School of Pisa [Di Ciolo's] may continue even after the Maestro decides to retire?


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Who do you think are the strongest epee fencers on the international circuit?

    MILANOLI:
    In my opinion Jannet is amongst the strongest ever, Kolobkov continues to be a hand span above the others even without training much, but the others, even if they have many titles, Fisher and Marik, don't impress me much.
    Obviously I don't talk about my team mates who are the best.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Who among the younger generation have the best chance to become the next super champions?

    MILANOLI:
    Rare are the young people who keep their promises, in particular in Italy ... fortunately for me...

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    And of the younger Italians, who could be the best?

    MILANOLI:
    I see the young Rota!

    ...........

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Who are or have been the greatest epeeists you've seen fencing?
    Who was the strongest epeeist you fenced against, and who impressed you the most?

    MILANOLI:
    Riboud, Kolobkov, Srecky, Schmitt just to remain in the classic mode, but there were many others. I like something of each fencer.
    The strongest with whom I fenced was Kulcsar. Even though he had retired for some time, he really impressed me.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Did you ever feel that you were "invincible" on the strip? Did you ever feel that nobody could have beaten you?

    MILANOLI:
    Yes, it happens few times in a lifetime. In Nimes I was invincible. I could have even won foil!

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    In the '70s the Americans put together a semi-virtual match between two boxers who were then thought the strongest in the history of heavyweights, Rocky Marciano and Cassius Clay (as Mohammed Ali was known). Is there a virtual fencing bout you'd like to watch?
    A Riboud-Kolobkov, for example?

    MILANOLI:
    Well, Riboud-Kolobkov I saw, even though Kolobkov was not yet at his peak. It was a nice bout.
    At the risk of repeating myself, I'd say that I'd like to see Kulcsar against all the greatest.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    We know that you are a pretty good chess player. A difficult and exhausting game, very rational, objective, in which the factor of chance does not exist. Playing chess did it help you in any way in your fencing evolution? If yes, how?

    MILANOLI:
    It's a very exhausting game which all fencers should play.
    Since indeed there is no room for chance, it teaches you a strict discipline, and only at the highest levels leaves room for the Genius with a capital G. The three rules in chess, as a great champion used to say, are the same as for fencing: careful, careful, careful!


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    What type of music do you like?

    MILANOLI:
    A bit of everything, but nothing in particular...

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    What is the best movie you've seen recently, and which one is your all-time favorite?

    MILANOLI:
    Hmm, always the rating game. And I should be used to it!
    The best movie for me, the most genial, "Pulp Fiction," but there are many others.
    Recent movies, I can't think of one.


    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Which book are you now reading?

    MILANOLI:
    "The Stone Raft" by Jose Saramago

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Any book you'd like to recommend to the readers?

    MILANOLI:
    I usually recommend different books to different people. Like in fencing, you can't give the same advice to everyone! "The Perfume" by Patrick Süskind.

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    We know that you get involved in all sorts of projects.

    MILANOLI:
    Right now I am a member of the Novara City Council, in charge of Sport, Tourism and Leisure, and other than being a father and a fencer, this is all I do.

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    If a fencing club, a college, a university abroad would invite you to move there and teach fencing for few months or few years, would you accept?

    MILANOLI:
    For few months I'd be glad to, but I don't want to leave Italy for years, unless I could get a type of contract which does not exist in fencing.

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    When you'll stop competing as an athlete, will you become a coach, or a sport manager, or what?

    MILANOLI:
    I'll become the World Champion of Texas Hold'em, a variation of poker. [notify ESPN. This may be the only chance they'll show a fencer...]

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    A last question for the Internet expert: Schermaonline is a website established few months ago with the idea to marry fencing, sport in general, current news, culture, and even arts. Do you think this is crazy or do you agree?

    MILANOLI:
    I like the mix, and I find it needed. Only fencing, scares me.

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Do you like for instance the official website of the FIS (Federscherma.it), or the well known site Schermanet.it?

    MILANOLI:
    I never visit them, maybe because all they talk about is fencing.

    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Thank you, Paolo, also on behalf of all your fans. Good luck for the future!

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    Another interesting and great interview...

    He talks a great deal about grandmothers and fencing... are they some sorta secret weapon in Europe??
    If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time~Proust

    ~The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

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    Senior Member striker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gladius
    .................................................. ...................
    SCHERMAONLINE:
    Would you have concrete proposals to put forward to improve the spectacularity of fencing in a wider sense?
    If you could make a wish to Roch, what would you ask him?

    MILANOLI:
    I had a project well based on a fencing platform which was hitched to very popular activities. But aside from the FIE which perceived it as a challenge to their power, I was sabotaged and now just talking about it makes me sad. How much energy, how much money, all wasted...sigh!
    .................................................. ......................
    Does anyone know what project or plan Milanoli is referring to here?
    As always, thanks Gladius for posting the translation.
    "On the watch, sir. Always on the watch. They don't all fight like fine gentlemen!"

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    This is reasonably off topic, but I'm curious. Milanoli is described as "pretty good" at chess, how good is he? (Nationally competitive, or just decent?)

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    MILANOLI:
    If I could ask one wish to the 'simpatico' M. Roch? I'd ask him to move on and let someone else give it a try...
    Maybe Roch will take a not-so-subtle hint...



    .

  6. #6
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    chess

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbiggs
    This is reasonably off topic, but I'm curious. Milanoli is described as "pretty good" at chess, how good is he? (Nationally competitive, or just decent?)

    Paolo was competitive, but not national level.
    Some years ago, there were the use, in italian fencing team, to play chess during trainings freetime.
    There were some good players: Mianoli, Master Kulksar, Master Oleg Poutzanov (russian), dr. Fiore (the doc of italian team).

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Aside from his, ah, sartorial ideas, I find myself rather liking---an epeeist! Who'd 'a thunk it?

    ( It alarms me to hear that Roch was enthusiastic about that silly mask. Bodes more ill for the future. )

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