Ten Bells guv’nor John Twomey misses Irish fencing champ by two rounds

Former sword-fence champion John Twomey cut a dash showing “young whippersnappers” how to duel—but was knocked out of a prestigious contest just two rounds short of the finals.

The 40-year-old London publican won six matches in the Irish national championships first round at the weekend and was ceded third with his ep�e rapier that swashbucklers used in the days of duelling.

But he was back in Spitalfields in the East End pulling pints this week at the Ten bells in Commercial Street after being ousted in Sunday’s quarter finals held near Dublin.

“I got trounced by a young whippersnapper who knocked me out of the contest,” he admitted.

“I won 10 matches till then and was fifth overall, so I showed these youngsters I could still match them.


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“But I’ve been out of it too long—I never knew I had so many parts of the body to ache.”

John was Irish national champion eight years in a row before retiring in 2002 when he took over the Ten Bells—infamous for its links with Jack the Ripper and the 1888 Whitechapel Murders.

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Then he got a taste for the clash of steel again and started training in the East End with Russian Master Alex Agrenich.

Some of his regulars started a support campaign on the Spitalfields Life website which featured him in practice earlier this month at Hanbury Hall community centre.

“My reflexes are as fast as ever,” he revealed. “But my technique has suffered from 10 years’ neglect.”

The weekend’s championship has left him wanting to get back next year and he is now looking for more contests to get a cut above his rivals.

[Pictures: Patricia Niven, courtesy of Spitalfields Life]

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