Hailing from Livorno and a member of the famous Circolo Scherma Fides, Oreste Puliti was coached by Beppe Nadi and was a regular sparring partner with Beppe’s sons Aldo and Nedo Nadi who were considered the best fencers of the world at the start of the 1920s. One of the top Italian foil and sabre fencers throughout the 1920s, Puliti struggled in individual Olympic events, finishing fourth at both individual sabre at the 1920 Olympics and individual foil at the 1928 Olympics. He was also seventh in individual foil at the 1920 Olympics and reached the final pool in individual sabre at the 1924 Olympics, but was disqualified.
In the 1924 sabre competition, four Italians – Puliti, Marcello Bertinetti, Bino Bini and Giulio Sarrocchi reached the final and the three Italians were drawn against Puliti in the first bouts of the final pool. Puliti, by far the best Italian sabre fencer, won those three bouts with ease, but the Jury of Appeal, led by Hungarian judge György Kovács, ruled that the Italians had thrown their matches to Puliti to allow him a better chance to win gold. Puliti was incensed and threatened to cane Kovács, which caused the jury to disqualify Puliti. Two days later, when he saw Kovács again, Puliti punched him in the face and a formal duel was proposed. The two combatants met again four months later at Nagykanizsa in southwestern Hungary, near the current Serbian border. The duel lasted for an hour, at which time the two were stopped by spectators who were concerned about the many wounds the two had received. Puliti and Kovács then shook hands and honor was restored.
Puliti did win four Olympic team gold medals (team foil / team sabre – 1920, team sabre – 1924, team foil – 1928) and one silver (team sabre – 1928). He was also the World individual foil champion in 1927 and 1929 and a team foil champion in 1929. He won Italian foil titles in 1921 and 1923 and was sabre champion in 1921-23. Puliti turned professional in 1930 and later coached fencing at Livorno and after World War II in Lucca. After his death Associazione Scherma Lucca was re-named the Associazione Oreste Puliti.
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