inducted October 2, 2008
Ben Atkins did not let his relatively small frame get in the way of an outstanding fencing career at Columbia.
Atkins became the first fencer in 46 years, and second ever, to win the NCAA national championship in two different weapons. After taking the NCAA foil title in 1991, Atkins triumphed in epee in 1993 and became the fourth Columbia fencer in history to win multiple national titles.
Despite his diminutive stature – Atkins stood only five-foot-nine while many of his competitors hovered around six-foot-one – the New York City native and three-time All-American was instrumental in helping the Lions win back-to-back NCAA team titles in 1992 and 1993. Largely due to his strategy and quick feet, Atkins was able to excel. “Tempo is so very important, the feeling that this is the right time to move,” Columbia coach Aladar Kogler once said to Sports Illustrated. “That Ben has.”
For his efforts in 1993, Atkins was named the NCAA Fencer of the Year and the United States Fencing Association Fencer of the Year. He still stands as the only man in Columbia’s storied fencing history to win the USFA individual honor.
A four-year letterwinner and two-time captain, Atkins graduated in 1993 with a degree in political science and continued to fence, winning the 1998 Senior World Championship in men’s epee. He earned a degree from Columbia Law School in 1998 and currently owns Atkins & Breskin, Company, a New York City-based real estate firm.