Miles Chamley-Watson may not look like your typical fencer, but then again, he's never been one to play by other people's rules. In the sport of fencing, this 24-year-old Olympian turned world champion shakes things up by trying things nobody has ever seen before. (Seriously, he can swing a foil around his head and strike his opponent in their weak spot.) Outside the arena, Miles is carving out his path in the world of fashion and beyond.
Before making a name for himself in the Olympic Games, he tirelessly pursued his fencing passion. Since then, he's reinforced his position as one of the fencing community's elite, consistently claiming and pursuing a hefty collection of titles. Recently Miles took a moment away from his training to discuss with us his beginnings, style, and the art of fencing on his own terms.
How did you initially become interested in fencing? What appealed to you about the sport?
I got in trouble after school in New York and when I saw a sword. I picked it up and thought “this is fun,” so I entered a competition and I ended up winning without really training or anything. Then I entered the Junior Olympics and I won again. I never thought it would take me this far.
How has winning gold at the world championships affected you personally? Professionally?
Its changed my life. I’m the only American to ever win. But now everyone wants to be associated with you and you kind of do find out who your real friends are. When people come up and recognize you, it is nice, but I guess you have to try and humble yourself. That’s been the hardest thing. [My coach] has got to keep me in my place. I’m trying to juggle so many things at a young age, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m extremely happy to be the first one to ever win.
As an athlete, you’ve really perfected the art of the comeback. How do you bounce back from a huge deficit?
The hardest thing is just blocking everything out and figuring out that it’s not over until it’s over. Playing football growing up, I learned that even if you’re down 2-1, you have to fight like its 5-0. Just keep the mentality that you can never, ever, ever give up. Not until the referee blows his whistle and says it’s over. You find out who you really are when you’re losing.
What was is like showing Raekwon the ropes with a foil?
Oh, that was crazy. My manager now is good friends with Raekwon’s manager, so I ended up in the studio with him at like five in the morning. I was like “what the hell is going on, what am I doing here.” I walked into the room with my blonde hair and Rick Ross was there too. He was like “Oh my God” and it sounded like he really liked me. He was cool with me, I was cool with him, which was really cool ‘cause he’s like, a legend. It was amazing to teach him some fencing. I never get star struck ever, but I totally was. He’s one of the biggest people in hip hop of all time!
We love seeing how you pull together your different looks. How do you keep your style fresh?
I like to mix luxury clothes with some street wear. I like to wear some different hats. I’m a hat fanatic I don’t know what it’s called, it’s like a pressed bonnet thing – I’m not sure what it is but they’re out in London. I love nice t-shirts too. I’m tall so I wear a lot of longer t-shirts.
Describe your experience with being a part of fashion week. How would you compare it to the buzz around a major tournament?
The runway is fun, it's kind of like a high, you know? Fashion Week - that was an incredible show. The runway was so long and it was massive. One of the biggest shows. And the rush was incredible when people are all looking at you. And when I was in the World Championship winning, it was like the same high. You can’t really put words in it, but it's an incredible high.
What is your next adventure going to be?
Maybe I’ll be a full-time model or a designer—I’m big into fashion. Eventually I want to start my own high-end clothing line. That’s something I’ve always been interested in. Or football, even. [Laughs] English football.