By: Anetta Nowosielska
One of the most successful polo players of all time, Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras Bermejo is ready for the next chapters in his already prolific and illustrious story. We sit down with the dashing Argentinian to talk games, investments and why horses will always remain part of his tale.
What is your first polo memory and how has it inspired you to take this sport on as a professional career.
My first polo memories are from a very young age, around two or three years old, when my dad used to take me to watch horses and polo matches. I then started riding and playing at around nine years old at our farm outside of Buenos Aires, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen when I decided that I loved polo and that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. You first fall in love with the sport, but it really is all about the horses that make one an real addict. There is nothing like them. “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,” Winston Churchill once said.
Horses were really it and you learned to love them more and more, then u start breeding them and playing their babies and that has a whole other level of excitement. And when you think you can’t love polo anymore you get to play with your own children and that is just an amazing experience
Was there ever an alternative career option for you?
My parents always encouraged me to do lots of sports like tennis, track and field, soccer. But my father pushed a little harder for polo because it was what he really liked himself. Today I thank him for introducing me to this sport that has become my life, a really blessed life indeed.
How did polo morphed into your fashion career?
I first came to play in the US in 1997 in Columbus, Georgia with a great guy John Flournoy. We played all over Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama. I had an amazing summer. That part of the US is just so special. But it was in 1999 when I was playing polo in Spain that I got a call from Ashley Schiff (of the prominent New York family) who asked to join her team in the Hamptons. It was a memorable summer. I met a lot of very interesting people, who I still see and call my friends. It was at a dinner at Kelly Klein that summer that I met Bruce Weber who said that it could be fun to have me in a campaign he was shooting for Ralph Lauren with Penelope Cruz. I met Ralph in person and had an amazing 20-year relationship that I cherish very much. I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me and the honor of being a spokesperson for his brand for so long. I respect Ralph very much and I learned a lot from him.
Did you worry that exposure would overshadow your polo reputation?
I always thought that the extra exposure was a great platform to promote the sport that I love. I also wanted to use polo as a platform for fund raising to help those who have not been as lucky as I have been.
You continue to dominate the game. How long do you see yourself playing?
I still play. I love it and I still see myself in the sport for few more years. My son Hilario, who is 22 years old, is a very active player and so is my 12-year Artemio who likes polo, too. So little by little I’ll be passing the baton and that will be the most natural transition.
What is a typical day in the life of Nacho look like?
It is always very family, horses and polo oriented. I spend a lot of time at the barn with the horses, play practice, spend time with my kids or go watch someone else’s match.
There are lots of other polo families who live similar lives, so we spend time with them too and so do our children.
And when not playing games, where can we find you?
I have been really focusing on the business investing in the last few years. I am trying to slowly shift form working for someone else like I did for Ralph Lauren to being more of an owner investor. I have invested in some very interesting companies that I really believe on like Fubo, a sports-focused live TV streaming service and Flow, a developer-friendly blockchain built to support the next generation of games, and some very interesting VC funds. I love crypto and the Blockchain. I also founded a perfume company with Delfi, my wife, and a great partner form England. And as always, I’m working on some other fun and interesting new projects.
Rumor has it you are an architecture buff and have started developing stables and real estate around this equestrian lifestyle. Tell us about that.
I have a company called FDG and I work with amazing partners at Estudio Ramos, who designed my stables in Argentina that got a lot of recognition. That project got us a lot of inquiries for similar projects around the world. I really love that. We have some really cool things coming soon.
You’ve worked with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex on Sentebale, an organization that gives hope to children and young people affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana. What motivated you to get involved and how do you see this organization’s future?
Harry has been a real friend for a long time now and seeing his commitment to Sentebale and being able to spend time with him there, with those incredible kids was a real inspiration. I was hooked right away, and I do as much as I can to help.
Wellington, where you spend a good portion of the year, had a lot of meaning for the recently deceased Neil Hirsch, an entrepreneur and a patron of the BlackWatch Polo Team, whose barn we shot your cover in. Tell us about his legacy and how you relate to its meaning.
Neil was a very special person in my life. He gave me my real first big job in polo with the BlackWatch Polo Team and we really had a very close relationship. I miss our talks and I learned so many things form him. Neil was a very successful guy, who created a lot of tech companies before the time of the internet, so he always had great stories to share. He did a lot of great things for polo and the Wellington community. He was a very generous person. I miss him very much and shooting this story in his stables was a way to remember him and to pay him tribute.