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Men of Menil dinner soars to Olympic proportions with dueling masters

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Andrea Baldini, from left, Miles Chamley-Watson, Tim Morehouse, Luigi Samele, Bill Pritchard, Leo Linbeck III and Tony Chase at Men of Menil March 2014
Andrea Baldini, from left, Miles Chamley-Watson, Tim Morehouse, Luigi Samele, Bill Pritchard, Leo Linbeck III and Tony Chase. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Mark Wawro, from left, Tim Moorehouse and Bob Cavnar at Men of Menil March 2014
Mark Wawro, from left, Tim Moorehouse and Bob Cavnar. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Fencing action at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencing action at Men of Menil. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
George Francisco, left, and David Modesett at Men of Menil March 2014
George Francisco, left, and David Modesett. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Tom Wessel, from left, Al Walker and Jim Crane at Men of Menil March 2014
Tom Wessel, from left, Al Walker and Jim Crane. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Miles Chamley-Watson at Men of Menil March 2014
Miles Chamley-Watson at Men of Menil. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Fencing action at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencing action at Men of Menil. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Andrea Baldini, from left, Luigi Samele, Josef Helfenstein, Miles Chamley-Watson and Tim Morehouse at Men of Menil March 2014
Andrea Baldini, from left, Luigi Samele, Josef Helfenstein, Miles Chamley-Watson and Tim Morehouse. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Chris Bradshaw, from left, Tull Florey, Paul Landen,Grant Fortney and Paul Perea at Men of Menil March 2014
Chris Bradshaw, from left, Tull Florey, Paul Landen, Grant Fortney and Paul Perea. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Barclay Armstrong, from left, Thad Grundy, Tom Bacon and David Fitch at Men of Menil March 2014
Barclay Armstrong, from left, Thad Grundy, Tom Bacon and David Fitch. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Alex Sonnenberg, from left, Brad Radoff, Dan Zimmerman, John Pearson and Salim Zakhem at Men of Menil March 2014
Alex Sonnenberg, from left, Brad Radoff, Dan Zimmerman, John Pearson and Salim Zakhem. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Alan Bigman, from left, Justin Segal, Danny David and David Cockrell at Men of Menil March 2014
Alan Bigman, from left, Justin Segal, Danny David and David Cockrell. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Fencers at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencers at Men of Menil. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Table setting at Men of Menil March 2014
Table setting at Men of Menil. Photo by © Daniel Ortiz
Andrea Baldini, from left, Miles Chamley-Watson, Tim Morehouse, Luigi Samele, Bill Pritchard, Leo Linbeck III and Tony Chase at Men of Menil March 2014
Mark Wawro, from left, Tim Moorehouse and Bob Cavnar at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencing action at Men of Menil March 2014
George Francisco, left, and David Modesett at Men of Menil March 2014
Tom Wessel, from left, Al Walker and Jim Crane at Men of Menil March 2014
Miles Chamley-Watson at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencing action at Men of Menil March 2014
Andrea Baldini, from left, Luigi Samele, Josef Helfenstein, Miles Chamley-Watson and Tim Morehouse at Men of Menil March 2014
Chris Bradshaw, from left, Tull Florey, Paul Landen,Grant Fortney and Paul Perea at Men of Menil March 2014
Barclay Armstrong, from left, Thad Grundy, Tom Bacon and David Fitch at Men of Menil March 2014
Alex Sonnenberg, from left, Brad Radoff, Dan Zimmerman, John Pearson and Salim Zakhem at Men of Menil March 2014
Alan Bigman, from left, Justin Segal, Danny David and David Cockrell at Men of Menil March 2014
Fencers at Men of Menil March 2014
Table setting at Men of Menil March 2014
Menil Collection Richmond Hall
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Even the most sophisticated of manly gents can't resist becoming playful youngsters when given a sword. After Tony Chase and Bob Cavnar received an impromptu lesson from world fencing masters in how to properly stand for en garde, how to execute a lunge attack and how to pass forward and backward, the duo engaged in the affair of honor — much to the enjoyment of some 250 cavaliers who cheered on the duel.

But the crowning moment of the "Men of Menil" fundraiser at Richmond Hall Thursday was a demonstration by four decorated fencing masters who are at the top of their game. Menil officials spared no expense in hosting the best world and Olympic champions in the sport, thanks in part to the support from Hawkins Capital, the Linbeck Family Charitable Trust and the Longfellow Group.

 Embracing their opponents after the wins was a true show of sportsmanship.

Entering for Team USA while the Olympic Fanfare was playing in the background were Miles Chamley-Watson, the first individual world champion in U.S fencing history and a member of the 2012 London Olympic team, and Tim Morehouse, 2008 Beijing Olympic silver medalist and two-time national champion. Representing Italy were Andrea Baldini, gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, and Luigi Samele, bronze medalist at the London 2012 Olympics and silver medalist at the 2010 World Championships in Paris.

The four athletes — who in their spare time headed to the Galleria for some retail therapy — couldn't have been more down-to-earth off the piste. But on the strip, feisty passion took over as the bouts were tight. With the score tied, it was ultimately Team USA that emerged victorious both in the foil and sabre styles. Embracing their opponents after the wins was a true show of sportsmanship.

Chase, one of the chairs alongside Leo Linbeck III and Bill Pritchard, organized this men-only gathering to create an ambiance where fellas could unwind, enjoy a hearty osso bucco dinner catered by Jackson and Company and goodies from Heights Cigar Lounge — sans significant others. The $450,000 raised will support the museum's exhibition, education and community outreach programs.

En garde in the company of Menil director Josef Helfenstein were Tom Wessel, Al Walker, Jim Crane, Jared Crane, Mark Wawro, Eddie Allen, Harry Pinson, Bill Stewart, Dan Dubrowski, Russell Hawkins, Paul Hobby and Greg Looser.

The who's who of Houston notables also included Ransom Lummis, Michael Metz, Scott Nyquist, David Ruiz, Chris Bradshaw, Danny David, Tripp Carter and David Crawford, David Cockrell, Brad Bucher, Mike Cannon, Doug Childers, Louis B. Cushman, Shannon Sasser, David Fitch, Larry Whaley, George Kelly, Stephen Newton and Sam Cole.

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