Thirty-five years ago, rockers in Leicester were probably just about getting their hearing back after burgeoning British heavy metal band Iron Maiden played De Montfort Hall, in March 1982.
It wasn’t the last time Maiden or their frontman Bruce Dickinson visited Leicestershire, playing De Mont and Castle Donington rock festivals several times more, including headlining Download last year.
But, in October 1988, Bruce returned to Leicester on his own – to compete with a flash of the blade.
The warbling singer, then 30, rubbed shoulders with the nation’s finest fencers at the Leicester City Open Fencing Championships, held at Granby Halls.
Just two months earlier, his band had headlined Download’s predecessor, the Monsters of Rock festival.
Dickinson beat a number of challengers, before finally falling in the last 16.
Championship secretary Terry Harrison said: “To reach that stage of a competition of this standard against such stiff opposition is truly excellent.”
Dickinson started fencing at school. He competed in his home town of Hemel Hempstead and as far afield as Germany and France. When he was 23, he was placed seventh in Britain. Undeterred, Dickinson returned to Leicester the following year – but was not so successful.
This time, he failed to gain selection in the Commonwealth Games, as he battled alongside 154 fencers from all over the country in one of the highest quality fields seen.
It was his third visit to the competition, again held at Granby Halls leisure centre.
He was hoping to get through to the last eight, but eventually bowed out at the last 32 stage.
Tournament organiser Mr Harrison said 1989’s field was “the best that had been seen in the city.
“Bruce did exceptionally well to get to that stage. He defeated a lot of good fencers on the way.”
Undeterred, Dickinson went on to start a fencing equipment company called Duellist, become an airline pilot and even develop beers, including a pint called Trooper – oh, and the singing hasn’t done him too badly, either…