Host City: Paris, France
Venue(s): Colombes Fencing Stadium, Colombes
Date Started: June 27, 1924
Date Finished: June 30, 1924
Between 1920 and 1956, Italy and France won every gold medal at the Olympics in team foil, each winning four times. In 1924 it would be France’s time to win gold, with Hungary and Belgium the other finalists, in addition to Italy. But France’s gold medal came in amid controversy. When France and Italy met in the final round-robin pool, France took a 3-1 bout lead when Lucien Gaudin and Aldo Boni faced off. The match was tied at four touches each when Hungarian referee György Kovács awarded the winning fifth touch to Gaudin, which incensed Boni. He verbally assaulted Kovács in Italian. Kovács asked the Italian-born Hungarian fencing master Italo Santelli what Boni said and when Santelli gave the translation into Hungarian, Kovács went to the Jury of Appeal which demanded an apology. Boni refused, and the Italian team, withdrew singing the Italian national anthem, forfeiting their matches against Belgium and Hungary. The silver medal went to Belgium based on their 9-7 victory over Hungary.
After the Olympics, the Italian team issued a statement alleging that Santelli had supported the referee because he was the coach of the Hungarian team and it would help them win a medal. When he learned of this, Santelli challenged Adolfo Contronei, the Italian captain to a duel. Santelli’s son, Giorgio, was concerned for his father, who was then over 60 years old, and invoked the code duello to replace his father in the coming battle. Government permission to fight the duel was obtained and on August 28 Giorgio Santelli and Contronei met in the small Italian town of Abbazia (later Opatija in Croatia) close to the Hungarian border, fighting with heavy sabres. Santelli slashed Contronei on his head, drawing blood, which caused doctors to intervene and stop the duel.