A Temple University graduate who teaches in the ARD Self Help Educational Center, Moss has as many as 85 athletes who turn out for fencing annually at Malcolm X. He has never dropped one from the squad. "They are all welcome," he says. "I work them hard, but there are never any hard feelings when someone quits."
Under Moss, the school has won four state and five city titles and was once unbeaten through 33 dual meets. Simmons and Blake had a tactic for any classmate who thought fencing was a sissy sport. Blake says, "We would get one of them to challenge us, take him out on the strip and tear him up."
Before taking up fencing eight years ago, Simmons considered himself an artist. "But once I found fencing, I went five years without picking up a brush," he says. He is an art and phys ed major at Detroit now with an interest in either commercial art or teaching. A large still life, his own, dominates the traffic in his room. But recently he turned to the camera—because of fencing. To solve a Soviet technique he came up against in Turin, Italy, Simmons, with the help of an American teammate, filmed the Russian fencer who had defeated him and held a few dozen private screenings when he returned to the States. Simmons met the Russian later and won.
"Tyrone is an international sponge," Moss says. "Any great athlete has the creativity. He learns what he needs in international meets and teaches it to his teammates in practice."
Simmons has found that European fencers take shorter steps for better balance and are more subtle in their hand movements than Americans. Perry says, "Once Tyrone identifies a problem, he solves it. He will say, 'This cat is doing such and such,' and he prepares for their next bout. I have never seen an indication of his limit. He is imaginative and analytical and the only thing he needs to become a world-class fencer is experience."
Most coaches believe that a fencer must first have experience at a level before he can expect to win at that plateau of his development. Moss doesn't agree. "Whatever you accomplish at any level is just a matter of doing it when you get there," he says. He has a firm advocate in Simmons. "I believe I am the best and if someone is going to beat me he will have to prove it. But don't think I'm going to wait around until he does. If fencing were reality, each touch against me would mean that I had been wounded or killed. I don't like being killed." Especially by someone over 30.