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Risto Hurme


Risto Hurme found his sport when a schoolmate invited him to a Pentathletes meeting. His
dedication was exemplified by the many hours of practicing not one but five sports, commuting
into the city after school, training seven days a week, and maintaining high grades. It also
offered great rewards, letting him travel all over Finland, Europe and the Soviet Union.
Introduced to a Hungarian fencing master at age 17, he became the national champion of
Finland by the time he was nineteen.
Around this time, the American Dr. Bob Beck put out word that he was looking for a young
pentathlete to come train with him in San Antonio, Texas as he prepared for his Olympic bid
and someone recommended Risto. Risto finished another year of college in Finland but then he
returned to San Antonio to train for the Olympics. His efforts paid off when his team won the
bronze medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Risto considered transferring to college in the United States and interviewed with Hugo
Castillo at New York University, NYC, who immediately recommended him for acceptance
(although he was months past the application deadline). He was offered a full scholarship, and
in return won three NCAA championships, a record that has been tied but never broken. After
graduation, he decided to make another Olympic bid and spent another year training in Finland
and San Antonio. Unfortunately, the 1976 Montreal Olympics resulted in an unhappy
performance because Risto’s enthusiastic dedication resulted in over-training.
At this point, Risto had to decide what to do with his life. He’d majored in computer science
but didn’t want to work in a corporate setting. Dr. Bob Beck, a dentist in his own right,
suggested he become a dentist. The thought of being his own boss and still have plenty of time
to train in Pentathlon and fence sold him. Risto went to Notre Dame University to complete the
medical courses he needed, and while there became the assistant fencing coach to Mike
DeCicco, helping the varsity fencing team win their first ever NCAA Championship. He
completed his studies back at NYU, moving back to NYC with his wife June. After graduating
Risto set up practice back in San Antonio, Texas. They were blessed with three children –
Kristina, born in 1978, Tommi in 1985 and Edward in 1988, all of whom joined in the fencing
Risto’s long work hours required to care for so many patients, for he was a very skilled
dentist, meant that he was unable to continue training as a pentathlete, but he never gave up
fencing epee. Risto’s commitment to youth opportunities in Pentathlon led him to join its Board
in 1992 and becoming elected as its president in 1996. Risto was directly responsible for
bringing retired champion Paul Pesthy in to coach the Pentathlete team, and together they
guided the team to a world championship. Fencing is still a huge part of Risto’s family life and
they are grateful that The Tim Hendricks Fencing Center of Incarnate Word University is mere
blocks from their home and being a part of Velizar Iliev’s club in San Antonio. Many dear
friends, renowned in the fencing world themselves such as Viktor Svatenko and Johnny
Moreau, join them regularly in regaling all the new kids with tales of adventure and doing them
the honor of crossing blades in great fun.

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