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The Gough Papers

Lawrence Matthew Gough was born in Dublin, Ireland, in June 1949. He is a fencing master (Maître d'Armes, AAI) who has been living in Germany for over 40 years.

In April 1964, at the age of 14, Larry Gough took up fencing. He was invited by an acquaintance of his father's to attend an international tournament in Dublin. Five days later he took his first sabre lesson from Mr. P. Duffy and became a member of his fencing club.

In the following three years, Larry Gough proved his ability at various tournaments at national level. He started studying at University College Dublin (UCD) in October 1966. At that time Larry Gough couldn't afford to pay both his university and private fencing club fees. So he decided to leave the Salle Duffy fencing club and to join the UCD fencing club.

Despite his obvious talent, having had numerous successes, Larry Gough, at the age of 17 received a six-month world-wide suspension from IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation - today, IFF - Irish Fencing Federation) in February 1967.

This suspension marked the beginning of an incredible story of helplessness and powerlessness of a young and highly motivated sportsman who was caught up in the wheels of Irish national sports politics.

 

This is his story.

1967: The Suspension

In order to understand how such incredible situations could arise in the sport of fencing in Ireland, it is necessary to be aware of the prevailing balance of power and the internal structure of the IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation - today, IFF - Irish Fencing Federation) at that time.

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1968: Olympic Games Mexico / Banned for Life

When Larry Gough was suspended by the IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation - today, IFF - Irish Fencing Federation) in February 1967, his FIE licence (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime - World Fencing Federation) was revoked by the IAFF. He could not compete in any tournament world-wide for six months.

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1971–1973: International Support / Exile

In January 1971, Lawrence Gough applied to the IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation) for an FIE licence (Féderation Internationale d'Escrime, World Fencing Federation). Because he held an Irish passport, he was dependent on the IAFF for an FIE licence. His application was turned down without any explanation.

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1973/1976: Stateless Fencer

The President of the FIE, Pierre Ferri, issued Lawrence Gough with an FIE licence in 1972 and again in 1973. When completing the data on both of these licences, under the heading "Fédération", he inserted "Irlandaise d'Escrime".

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1976: Olympic Games Montreal

In 1975, according to the Irish Times, the IAFF (Irish Amateur Fencing Federation) nominated 3 fencers for the Montreal Olympic Games.  Lawrence Gough was not among them.

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1994: Still under Surveillance

Since his arrival in Germany in 1973, Lawrence Gough had become a well-known and popular fencer, a highly-respected trainer and personality in fencing circles far and wide. Ironically, internationally and nationally in Germany, Lawrence Gough was the face of Irish fencing.

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