Jean-Louis Michel born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) in 1785 (exact date unknown) was one of the greatest #swordsman of his time and he happened to be black. During his era, the population of Saint-Domingue was majority black and colonized by the French. His father was a fencing coach for the French army in his youth. For some reason or another historians did a poor job of archiving his full story and subsequently little is known about Michel’s younger life. But what is known is Jean-Louis had it extraordinary talent for fencing. In training and in dueling, Jean-Louis Michel focused on not wasting movement.
Several accounts of his fights note that he would evade or parry his opponent’s advances and wait until they tired themselves out before attacking, an obvious early take on the rope-a-dope. This approach resulted in many opponents deaths.
Just as his father did, Jean-Louis Michel joined the French Army, serving under Napoleon, were he grew his legend as an extremely deadly fencer. The French and Italian armies camped outside of Madrid in 1814. Eventually, an argument arose between the two forces. In several duels, Jean-Louis killed three Italian master swordsmen and injures ten others. The duels all lasted 40 minutes and Michel defeated them in 27 thrusts.
On July 29, 1814, Jean-Louis was knighted by the Legion of Honour. Well into his 40s, #JeanLouisMichel accepted a number duels and would train others. He retired from the military in 1830 and opened his fencing school in Montpellier. Jean-Louis made sure his students knew that fencing to death was the worst use of his training. He continued instructing students for 35 years after opening his school.Jean-Michel lived up until the age of 80, with the highest respect and known the world over as the father of modern fencing.