Updated: Jun 15
Rebekah Bucur, Amanda Pirkowski, Naomi Bucur, Celeste Kuri were the top 4 finishers.
Orlando, Florida- Notre Dame star Amanda Pirkowski took down the historic first-ever prize money women's event in fencing at the WSA Orlando Money Open on May 29,2022. The NCAA All-American faced strong opposition from the local Floridian contingent of young women. The events were hosted by Sword Masters Club in Avalon Park, Orlando in conjunction with Senior Mixed Epee, Senior Mixed Sabre, Senior Mixed Modern Sabre One-Light, and 4 Mini-Money Epee Tournaments. All together, 8 prize money events were held over 3 days paying out thousands of dollars to the fencers.
The power house women made for a ground shaking event. The Senior Women’s Epee event was a riot with these women displaying the utmost focus, strength, and class like no other fencers before at Sword Masters Club. Some of these amazing women included Amanda Pirkowski, Rebekah Bucur, Celeste Romero Kuri of Mexico now USA, Naomi Bucur, Helen Fernlund, Kerenyi Vilma of Hungary, and Jennifer Bui. These girls gave it their all.
The 19-year old Pirkowski won 5 of her pool bouts and was nearly undefeated till she fell 2-1 to 16-year old Celeste Kuri, the recent Bronze Medalist for Team USA at the ISF Gymnasiade Championships in France. Amanda still retained the #1 seeding for the DE brackets. She came back with a vengeance in the DE bracket re-matching with Kuri and defeating her 15-7 in the semi-finals. The other semi-finals saw fencing sisters Naomi Bucur and Rebekah Bucur face each other. Both sisters represent Sword Masters Club Melbourne under their father Maestro Daniel Bucur who coincidentally also coaches Kuri. The older sister Rebekah took the win 15-9 to face Pirkowski in the finals.
Bucur and Pirkowski put on a skillful display of fencing prowess in the finals
The finals saw Liberty University's 19-year-old Bucur versus Notre Dame's Pirkowski in what some may deem a David vs Goliath match. But Bucur scored the first touch and kept up with Pirkowski for much of the bout. The end of period 1 had Amanda lead 6-4. By the end of period 2, Bucur was trailing only by 1 with the score at 12-11. The more seasoned Pirkowski showed why she's an NCAA Champion and took over the last 3 points in a row to win a hard-fought 15-11 win and the $200 cash prize. Of which she pledged 50% of her winnings to the Miss America Organization charities. Pirkowski is the current Miss South Bend , Indiana and will compete for Miss Indiana to represent at the Miss America Pageant. You can donate to her charity at www.spotfund.com/story/b99092de-c3b3-4751-8ed5-6d3ea1519d93?SFID=FDRU28
" I really enjoyed the event, and both tournaments had strong competition. I loved seeing more women fencing and growing the numbers in our sport. The WSA Orlando Money Open was well organized and ran on schedule, and I had a really good time", said Pirkowski. She added "The new WSA Money Open Format was fast and definitely kept me on my toes. The shorter clock helped me with making me more focused on key 1-touch situations. The prize money was really cool, though I always fence the same no matter what. You can always learn from experience and that's what I aim for. But it was definitely nice to donate to charity with some of my winnings. I would love to see more tournaments to grow the sport."
In addition to winning gold in the women's epee, Pirkowski also finished bronze in the Men's Open losing to only one male fencer in the semi-finals.
"The WSA Orlando Money Open events were smooth, fast, and very well organized. Thank you to Carlos Kuri the Tournament Director for running it and Charlie Williams for producing", said Rebekah Bucur. "Fencing events that are run well are not as common as we would like, so we really appreciate the efforts including all the promotions and pre-marketing of the fencers."
Bronze medalist and younger sister Naomi Bucur added, "I would like to thank Charlie Williams of the WSA and Sword Masters Fencing Club, for putting such an amazing event together. Everything was perfect, I can’t wait for the next event. Also congratulations to all the winners of each event." Naomi had the distinction of being the only female that competed in all the events including epee and sabre. In total she fenced 5 events with success against the men as well as the women.
"This was a fantastic first-time event! I really think we are onto something and I will always support future WSA Money events", said Carlos Kuri who consulted for the events. Kuri is the current head for national organizations Fencing League of America and AAU Fencing.
The Champion with WSA CEO Charlie Williams
"What the WSA is doing and creating is truly groundbreaking for fencing", said veteran fencer, coach, and fencing club owner Daniel Bucur. He was also a national team member for Romania and renown international competitor.
"The WSA Orlando Money Open was a resounding success. We are young in the sport of fencing, but veterans when it comes to sports promotions. We would love to see this amazing sport grow to the levels we have achieved in other mainstream sports. Special thanks to Fencing League of America for their guidance and assistance to us. Their counsel is invaluable. And Carlos Kuri who did an incredible job as tournament director of all 8 events. We look forward to the future", said WSA CEO Charlie Williams.
1st Amanda Pirkowski
2nd Rebekah Bucur
3rd Naomi Bucur
4th Celeste Kuri
5th Helen Fernlund
6th Vilma Kerenyi
7th Jennifer Bui
WSA World Sports Alumni sports events award college athletes prize money through sponsorships within NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) regulations. In addition, college, junior,and amateur athletes are allowed up to $10,000 in prize money earnings per calendar year. The WSA is comprised of a Board of Attorneys, Business Board, and over 500 professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB, UFC, PGA, WTA, ATP, Boxing and more. The WSA is the largest multi-sport pro athletes association in the world. Visit WorldSportsAlumni.com