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How Italy became a fencing powerhouse in the Olympics

The Federazione Italiana Scherma has made Italy a fencing powerhouse and the consistency has shown enviable results on the world stage

Fencing Sport

Club Di Scherma Jersi in Italy 


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 2021-07-15T10:35:52+05:30

Fencing has been the forte of very few countries around the world. This has mainly been because it is a traditional sport that dates back to medieval sword fighting and is an evolution from traditional sword duels. It would only make sense that European countries would be frontrunners to dominate the proceedings in the modern Olympics and this is exactly how and why Italy is a dominant force in Fencing since the early 20th century.

The Fencing Federation in Italy oversees the functioning of more than 250 Fencing clubs in Italy. This allows them to have maximum control over the training, competitions, regulations and the overall enhancing of fencing in the country. The 17th century saw a rise in rivalries between the Italian fencing schools namely the Bolognese and Neapolitan. This made them enhance the skill of sword fighting that was even utilised in various Wars across the years. The tradition continued till the late 19th century which finally culminated in the founding of the Federazione Italiana Scherma in 1909. Italy has always been high rated alongside the Elizabethan School of Fencing and the French Fencing School that were strongholds of the sport in the 18th century.

The Italian Sabre(source-history of the sword)

Rating System

The Italians have a unique rating system that governs how they rank each player. Given there are so many fencers vying for a top spot, each competitor is given a rank for every tournament they take part in. This score is added up to determine a rank of a player and based on the highest ranks, each player can go for tournaments as per their prestige. This is further coupled with each age group that is separated out to classify players. Giovanissmi is between 11-14 while Giovani is for players between 15-19. Assoluti is everyone above 15 while Master is for all those above the age of 24.

Bhavani Devi flanked on her left by Italian coach, Nicolla Zanotti

International Success

The awards of continued persistence in enhancing Fencing has been reaped by the Italian Fencing Federation. As of today, the country has a total of 123 medals only from Olympic events with a total of 48 Gold medals making a large chunk of the percentage. They also have a total of 514 medals in the World Championships that is the highest in the world. Italy stands at the top of the medal charts in the world when it comes to the Olympics, World Championships and European Championships.

Notable Fencers

Following a sport like fencing would be incomplete without appreciating the achievements of traditional and modern day Italian fencers who have graced the sport. Edoardo Mangiorotti accumulated a total of 39 Olympic Medals and World Championships Medals during his career between 1936-1960. Nedo Nadi stands out for his unique achievement of winning a Gold Medal in each of the three different swords at a single edition of the Olympics. Amongst others are Valentina Vezzalli, Giovanna Trillini, Franco Riccardi and Sandro Cuomo.

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