Silvano Abba was the first great Italian champion in the modern pentathlon, winning a bronze medal at the 1936 Olympics only a few years after the sport was recognized in Italy. He later won the first Italian national title in 1940. Abba was a military man, who led the Italian Savoy Cavalry squadron in August 1942 at the Battle of Izbushensky near Volgograd. Abba was killed, along with 700 other riders who were slaughtered by the Soviets. It is considered the last cavalry charge in military history. Abba was posthumously awarded a gold medal for military valor.