Bob Parmacek's illustrious fencing career began in 1950 and in four years of intercollegiate competition he helped the Quakers establish themselves as one of the premier fencing teams in the country.
As a freshman in 1950, Parmacek led the freshman fencing squad to a 13-2 overall record, where he competed in the foil. In 1951, as a member of the varsity fencing team, Parmacek helped the Quakers to a 24-10 record as Penn won the Eastern Intercollegiate Team Sabre Championship and finished second at the NCAA Fencing Championships. It was the first time since 1925 that Penn’s fencing team placed anywhere in any event at the NCAAs. Parmacek finished second at the Eastern’s in the sabre and he was named captain for the following year by his teammates.
In his junior year, Parmacek stepped up the pace for the Penn fencing program. Under the watchful eye of legendary coach Maestro Lajos Csiszar, Penn went 8-2 during the regular season and finished second as a team at the NCAA Championships and tied for fourth at the
Parmacek's fencing accomplishments were further heightened during his senior year in 1953. The team went 8-1, falling only to Navy, 15-12, on February 7, 1953. Parmacek earned the NCAA Sabre Championship with a 32-1 record at the tournament and his sabre victory provided the most dramatic action of the day. With two bouts remaining, he was trailing unbeaten Navy's Frank Zimolzak, who had 30 wins. Parmacek beat him, 5-2, to tie for the lead.
The Quakers won their first NCAA Fencing Team Championship, held at Hutchinson Gymnasium, as the team combined for a 94-7 overall record in 1953. Parmacek won the Eastern Intercollegiate Sabre Championship as well, while Penn finished second in that tournament after taking both the foil and epee team championships. He was awarded the Penn Minor Sports Outstanding Athlete Award at Ivy Day and graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 1953.
After graduation, Parmacek was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and put on active duty. In 1955, as a member of the U.S. Military Fencing Team that competed in the Military World Championships in
"Bob Parmacek and his teammates set the standards of achievement for the modern era of Penn Fencing. His accomplishments in intercollegiate fencing made our high aspirations realistic. He was a champion — one of us — an icon for future generations of Penn fencers to emulate." — Dave Micahnik, C’59, Penn fencing coach