Miles Chamley Watson poses for a portrait during his visit to Austria in Salzburg on May 29, 2019
© Leo Rosas/Red Bull Content Pool

How Miles Chamley-Watson is taking fencing from niche to mainstream

Maverick American fencer Miles Chamley-Watson wants his legacy to be more than just medals.
Shkruar nga Matthew Ogborn
3 min readBotuar më
Miles Chamley-Watson has made a big name for himself in the sport of fencing with his fearless foil approach and colourful personality earning him two world golds, three world silvers and team bronze in Rio.
The tall, stylish American has also become a global fashion icon with his ripped physique, blonde hair and tattoos seeing him turn heads at fencing events around the globe.
As well as winning medals at the highest level of his sport, the 29-year-old has set his sights on launching the traditionally elitist sport from a niche one into the mainstream.
Read what Chamley-Watson has to say about life on and off the fencing piste below.
You first got into fencing by accident. Why did you choose it as your school punishment?
Basically it was just the first sport that I really loved. I never thought it was going to be my job, but it was either that or tennis or badminton. So I thought, 'Swords are cool', and then I ended up competing and quite quickly getting in love with it.
Fencing is deemed by some to be elitist. Have you had challenges and negative comments in trying to make it more urban?
Yes, since the day I started winning. I am very different with tattoos and blonde hair. You have those people who are happy, the younger kids especially. There are still a lot of older people in the sport, who still don't want to change. I have the ability to change the sport on my own. There is a lot of pressure, but it's exciting as well.
Do you think you've helped bring fencing to a new audience?
My goal is to take it from niche to mainstream. We have the potential to be on TV every day. Obviously the top events are big for the sport, but I think there are so many other ways to bring viewers to the sport. I will make it mainstream, for sure!
You're gearing up for a busy 18 months with Tokyo coming up. What will it take to get a medal?
I think it is just about having fun and not putting too much pressure on myself. If I have fun, things will take care of itself. Tokyo is around the corner so, if I keep winning, I can come home with gold medals and we can celebrate.
Miles Chamley-Watson poses for a portrait.
Miles Chamley-Watson
You've done things your own way and performed moves that nobody else could, so how important is individuality to your career?
I think that is what separates us, because we are wearing masks and you can't really see who we are. My style is natural. I never tried to be flashy, it just happened. What is important in every sport is being yourself and sticking out in whichever way you want to. That is what I have been trying to do and it is just the beginning.