Osiier, Ivan : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Osiier, Ivan


Country Represented:

Years Competed:
1908, 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1948

Medals Received:

Olympic Info:
Osiier participated in every Olympiad from 1908-1948 for the Danish fencing team, except for the 1936 Berlin Games, which he boycotted in protest against the Nazis. Ivan's 40-year Olympic career is the longest in history. He first competed in the 1908 London Olympics, reaching the second round in the individual epee competition (he officially finished 18th), while Denmark lost to France in the first round of the team competition (France had two Jewish fencers at those Games, Alexandre Lippman, and Jean Stern), and Great Britain in the second round.

A versatile fencer, Osiier competed in the Stockholm Olympiad in 1912 in Stockholm in all three fencing disciplines (foil, epee, and sabre), and won the only medal of his Olympic career. In the individual epee, he finished in second place to capture the silver medal by winning five of seven matches in the finals (Belgian fencer Paul Anspach won the gold medal). At Stockholm, Osiier also competed in three other events, although he was eliminated in the first round of both the individual and team sabre competitions. In the the individual foil, he advanced to the semifinals before being eliminated. He finished 20th overall.

His next Olympic competition took place in 1920 at the Antwerp Games because the Olympics had been cancelled in 1916 due to World War I. In Antwerp, Ivan competed in three events, and made the finals in all three. He finished in fourth place in the team foil event, sixth place in the team sabre, and eighth in the individual foil event. At the 1924 Paris Olympics, Osiier competed with the epee and foil in the individual events. He reached the finals in the individual foil by winning his pool in the first four rounds. In the finals, he was victorious in only one bout (out of six), and finished in sixth place. He also finished in sixth place in the individual sabre after winning two of seven matches in the final pool (he again won all his earlier pools). In the team events, Denmark reached the semifinals in the foil before losing to Italy and Belgium, and were eliminated in the quarterfinals in the epee (they lost to Portugal and Uruguay, but defeated Holland).

At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, Osiier competed in five fencing events (every event Denmark entered). In the individual sabre competition, he reached the semifinals, but was eliminated after finishing fifth in his pool. In the individual foil, he won his elimination pool, but was again eliminated in the semifinals after finishing fifth in his pool. Denmark was eliminated in the quarterfinals in the team foil, but not because of Osiier, who won 16 of 20 bouts in the competition. In the epee, for the third time in an individual event at the 1928 Games, he got no further than the semifinals. Denmark was then eliminated in the first round of the team epee, although Osiier won five of his eight bouts.

Osiier competed in five events again at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The Danish epee team reached the semifinals before they were eliminated by the United States, despite Osiier winning all four of his bouts (the match ended 8-8, but the U.S. had fewer touches received and therefore won). He reached the finals in the team foil event and placed fourth after Denmark lost to Italy (4-12), France (6-10), and the United States (7-9). Osiier also competed in the individual foil and reached the semifinals before being eliminated (he placed seventh in his pool). In the sabre events, Osiier reached the final and placed seventh overall while the Danish team lost to Hungary (1-11) in the first round (Osiier registered Denmark's only victory in the match).

At the age of 60, Osiier returned to Olympic competition once more, in 1948 at the London Games. He had boycotted the 1936 Berlin Games, and then next two Olympiads (1940 and 1944) were cancelled because of World War II. When the Games resumed in 1948, Ivan decided to compete a final time, 40 years after first participating in the Olympics. He fenced in only one event, the team epee, and Denmark was eliminated in the first round, but the fact that Osiier competed at all, is a testament to one of the greatest athletes in Olympic history. He received the Olympic Diploma of Merit.

Career Highlights:
Osiier, who was a physician, won 25 Danish national titles with all 3 weapons (sabre, foil, and epee)! He won the Danish foil championship in 1913, 1915, 1917-1919, 1923-1924, and 1927-1929. He was also the national epee champion in 1915-1917, 1927-1928, and the sabre champion in 1913, 1916-1920, 1922-1923, 1928-1929. Osiier also won Scandinavian championships in the sabre (1921, 1923, 1927, 1929, 1931, and 1933), foil (1920-21, 1923, 1927, 1929, and 1931), and epee (1920). After his competitive career, Osiier became the longtime head of the Denmark Fencing Federation. He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Dec. 16, 1888 - d. Sept. 1965

Copenhagen, Denmark

Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)

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