James Melcher

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James Melcher
Born (1939-11-05) November 5, 1939 (age 77)
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Citizenship U.S.
Alma mater Columbia University
Known for Fencing, Balestra Capital Management

James Melcher (born November 5, 1939) is an American hedge fund manager and former Olympic fencer. He competed in the individual and team épée events at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.[1]


Melcher grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and attended Columbia University where he graduated B.A. He first learned to fence his freshman year and was "a solid though unspectacular college fencer". He graduated in 1961 with a degree in English, and afterwards remained in New York to work on Wall Street. However, he continued fencing at the Fencers Club in his free time, and took lessons for several years from Hall of Famer Michel Alaux.[2]

Around age 30, he "finally broke through as a top fencer", when he defeated the world’s No. 1 fencer in the 1970 Martini Épée Challenge.[2] He went on to become a two-time national champion and qualified for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

His competitive fencing career ended in 1974 when he developed chronic fatigue syndrome (from which he has since recovered). He became chairman of the Fencers Club in the late 1970s and served for a decade, and became chair again in 2006.[2]


He founded Balestra Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund, in 1979.[3][4] He named the firm after the balestra, a fencing move that sometimes "dictates a strategic retreat".[2]

He maintains that for both investing and fencing, one needs "a high level of self-control, particularly control over emotional reactions".[5]


  1. ^ "James Melcher". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jonathan Lemire (January 2008). "On Top of His Game: James Melcher '61 Feints, Invests". Columbia College Today. 
  3. ^ "History". Balestra Capital. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  4. ^ Rob Copeland (July 21, 2014). "Money Manager Foiled by Bad Bets". Bloomberg Business. 
  5. ^ "A Fencer's Stance on Investing". Bloomberg Business. December 7, 2004.