Obituary: International fencing champion worked as stunt double for Hollywood icon Errol Flynn
A top-class British fencer who worked as a stunt double for Hollywood icon Errol Flynn has passed away, aged 85.
Long-time Highgate resident Raymond Paul died on December 23 last year.
Along with his elder brother Rene, Raymond was one of a select band of British fencers to make a mark on the international scene during the 1950s and ’60s.
The brothers represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 and in Melbourne in 1956, where Raymond, together with Allan Jay, reached the final of the Men’s Foil.
During these years, Raymond and Rene were the stars of British foil events, fighting under the banner of the Salle Paul club founded by their father Leon Paul, a French fencing master.
Raymond was a four-time British men’s foil champion, runner-up five times and open champion three times between 1951 and 1959. The brothers led Salle Paul to victory no less than 17 times in the British national team championships.
Raymond was part of the Commonwealth Games team that won gold medals in 1950, 1954 and 1958. In 1958, he also won individual gold.
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Raymond also acted as a fencing double for film stars, such as Errol Flynn, in several classic films of the 1950s.
Raymond Rudolph Valentine Paul was born in 1928 to Leon and Anna, of French and Lithuanian origin respectively, who had settled in London.
Leon was a successful fencing master and Raymond and Rene were introduced to the sport at a very young age.
At the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Raymond was engaged to June Foulds, the British women’s 100m champion, who was also competing at the Games and won a bronze medal. She later won silver at the Melbourne Olympics.
The couple married in 1952 and upon the death of his father in 1963, Raymond and his brother took over the running of the family business started by his father in 1928.
Under their direction, Leon Paul Equipment Co Ltd became one of the largest manufacturers of fencing equipment in the world. The company pioneered the machine manufacture of fencing blades and was at the forefront of the introduction of electronic scoring equipment for foil, epee and sabre, which is now standard.
Raymond lived in Highgate most of his life and his home was the centre for the London fencing community.
His New Year’s Day parties were famous – always beginning with a football game on Highgate Fields involving over 50 people.
Raymond’s home in Highgate had a downstairs reception area replicating an ancient Roman dining hall, with ornate pillars, marble flooring and classical bust, while the marital bedroom was decked out to resemble scenes from Rudolf Valentino’s 1921 film The Sheik.
In 1970, Raymond and June divorced and two years later he married Barbara Jones. He is survived by Barbara, three children from his first marriage, Steven, Danielle, and Charlie, and a daughter, Anastasia, from his second marriage.