On the Cutting Edge

Victor Bianchini '63 (JD)

USD alumnus always on the lookout for an adventure

Victor Bianchini ’63 (JD) has held many titles over the years. He spent 31 years in the Marine Corps before retiring as a colonel. Next year, he’ll celebrate his 40th anniversary as a judge, first as a U.S. Magistrate judge, then as San Diego Superior Court judge, juggling cases in New York and San Diego. Last year, Bianchini earned a new title as the 2012 U.S. national champion in sabre fencing in his age division.

It all started in 2010 — when he was 72 years old.

“I was minding my own business watching my daughter, Amy, fence for UCSD, where she was conference champion her senior year. Her coach suggested that I might be good at fencing in the veterans division,” Bianchini recalls. “I never fenced before, but the idea interested me.”

The self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie spent 27 years as a parachuter. So the idea of picking up a sabre and defending himself against younger, faster and more experienced opponents didn’t intimidate him.

After a year and a half, Bianchini qualified for the world championships in Porec, Croatia, where he took sixth place in his age division. One year later, at the national championships in Anaheim, Calif., he won the gold medal in the 70-to-79 division.

Bianchini, now 75, just returned from the Maccabiah Games. Held in Jerusalem, the Israeli Olympics bring together athletes from all over the world. He was the oldest in the competition and won a third place bronze in the 40+ age division, qualifying to compete in his third World Championship, to be held in October in Varna, Bulgaria.

During practice, Bianchini competes against teenagers who have as many as four or five more years of experience. In competition, he’s matched with men closer to his own age who’ve been fencing for 50 or 60 years. His secret weapon is three decades in the military and a lifetime dedication to physical fitness. Until recently, Bianchini ran more than three miles a day and now runs a mile every other day.

“Fencing opened up a whole new world,” says the parachuter, turned judge, turned sabre-wielding adventure junkie. “I feel quite blessed that I discovered this sport at this stage of my life. New experiences are a gift.” — Krystn Shrieve