Arnold Ralph Cooperman



Arnold Ralph Cooperman was born in Stoke Newington on November 27th 1927, into a traditional Jewish family along with a brother and sister, and went on to attend Holloway School. He took up fencing in 1945 as part of his national service in the RAF as a physical training instructor.

Ralph as he was known in the fencing world won the British junior championships in foil and sabre in 1950 and 1951 respectively, and was three times British Champion in sabre in 1954, 1960 and 1961 and runner up in foil in 1953.

He was a medalist at the 1950, 1953 and 1969 Maccabiah Games. He also competed in sabre at the world championships on seven occasions from 1953 to 1966.

In open international sabre competitions he won bronze in The Hague in 1953, gold in Ostend and bronze in London in 1955, gold in Brussels and bronze in Noordwyck in 1958, gold in Amsterdam and silver in Ostend in 1959 and bronze in Paris in 1960.

Ralph competed on behalf of Great Britain in foil and sabre at the 1956 in Melbourne, and in Rome in the 1960 Summer Olympics and Tokyo in 1964.

He represented England and won a gold medal and two silver medals in the foil and sabre respectively at the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.

At the 1958 British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Cardiff Ralph won a gold and silver in the sabre events, and four years later at the 1962 British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Perth he won triple gold and a bronze medal in the foil (behind teammate Allan Jay). He won his 11th medal in total and 6th and 7th gold medals in both sabre and team sabre at the 1966 British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Kingston. Overall he won winning seven gold medals, three silver and one bronze medal.

Ralph married Shirley George in 1966 and was a qualified accountant who worked for various companies.

He was unfailingly kind and courteous. He coached wheelchair fencers in the early days of Stoke Mandeville Hospital. With his wife, Shirley, he was known for his hospitality. Other accomplishments included dancing and swimming.

Though suffering from severe Alzheimer's in later life, he will be remembered for his sense of fun as well as his fencing skill and dash.

Ralph died in London on March 22nd 2009, aged 81 years old. RH