Nacho Figueras – Polo’s Game Changer

Ralph Lauren’s iconic brand has long represented the chic side of preppy, and his male models have left women swooning for generations. The brand’s latest addition is Argentinian polo superstar Ignacio Figueras, known to just about everyone as Nacho. Nacho first entered the sport at nine and catapulted to the top of the game by the time he was 20. He’s rapidly expanding his global reach into hearts and minds and was just named a Game Changer by Johnnie Walker Blue Label. He and his father, business partner, and dear friend, Horacio, recently caught up with OCEAN Style magazine in New York City.

For many men, this generation represents the first in which they are expected to truly embrace the triumphs, tragedies, and endless work of fatherhood. But for the two Figueras men, the ‘work’ of fatherhood is old news and a family tradition. The elder Figueras was his son’s mentor long before the days of Ralph Lauren, polo, and Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and Nacho argues that his father deserves the lion’s share of credit for his success, emphasizing, “My father always taught me that nothing is impossible. He taught me to be very perseverant, to be tenacious in everything I do in life. One of the most important things in life is to believe that [you] can do anything, that nothing is impossible.”

Nacho’s father was his guide into the competitive, even ruthless, world of polo. It was Horacio who first put Nacho on a horse, offering fatherly riding guidance and coaching him through his first steps into polo.

Now 36 and a father himself, the younger Figueras is applying the lessons learned from his father to his own children. These lessons, he explains, help him focus more closely on his career while never losing sight of the needs of his growing family.

Figueras isn’t exaggerating when he says he’s been focused on his career. He became a professional polo player at the age of 17, playing on the White Birch team in New York. Widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, Figueras recently told CBS News that he has no intention of leaving the game for other pursuits. He now plays on BlackWatch, a team for which he is also co-owner. His highly successful Manhattan Polo Classic remains a favorite of polo devotees, with England’s Prince Harry participating in 2010.

Figuera’s burgeoning polo career, not to mention his unmissable good looks, quickly drew the attention of designer Ralph Lauren. He signed his first modeling contract in 2000 and quickly catapulted to superstardom, becoming the face of Ralph Lauren Black Label in 2005. He is now the model for virtually all of the brand’s polo fragrances – an apropos trajectory for a man who began his career in the sport, but perhaps a surprising turn for a boy who grew up on a farm.

While it might be modeling that has brought Nacho into the public consciousness, his true love remains polo. For him, polo isn’t just a stepping stone into superstardom. It’s his passion, and he intends to use his celebrity to draw other people into the game. Figueras takes his role as a game changer seriously and has dedicated himself to popularizing the sport of polo. Once thought of as a game for yuppies and aristocrats, Nacho’s stunning good looks and farm boy charm have brought attention and increased awareness of the sport, attracting players from across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Figueras knows that changing the face of polo begins at home, though. His son, Hilario Figueras, is a polo player who recently made his debut in the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, scoring three goals and capturing the attention of the crowd. Nacho, of course, couldn’t be prouder. He clearly intends to continue the tradition of Figueras men rising to the top of their game.

He’s learned, though, that even superstars have setbacks. Nacho suffered a nasty fall in May at the Cowdray Park Polo Club in England, breaking his hip after the front leg of his horse exerted its full weight on his body. The injury left him cheering on the sidelines instead of playing the game he loves.

Whether adored for his good looks, admired for his immense talent or respected for his vision to make polo a more inclusive sport with wider participation, Nacho has already made a significant contribution and had a meaningful impact. He has managed to take his natural abilities, along with application and focus, together with his strong upbringing and blaze an impressive trail. With that track record and his very impressive objectives for the future, we eagerly anticipate what the future holds for this talented game changer.

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