“This is the beginning of a wonderful party’
In memory of my friend and mentor, Marcos Uranga
By Asad Jumabhoy
Marcos Uranga was larger than life. His legacy to international polo is legendary but his relationships were intimate and personal. I knew Marcos for almost 40 years. His passing marked a milestone in my own polo journey. I am sure that I am but one of many people whose lives he has touched in his quest to open the world of polo to anyone who wished to participate and benefit from the camaraderie in sport, competition, and lifelong friendship. It was this kinship which he saw as most endearing in building the international polo community.
It was 1982 and I was a young college student in Los Angeles having breakfast by the poolside at the Holden residence. Glen Holden called me into the house and introduced me to Marcos for the very first time. I was a 3-goal player at the time with dreams of playing polo all over the world. Little did I know about the profound impact these two gentlemen would have on steering my path in polo as Marcos joined Glen and several others to steer the growth of the sport worldwide. 1982 was also the year Marcos and Glen founded the Federation of International Polo.
The FIP idea resonated with many. Marcos and Glen inspired so many of us to get involved in FIP on a mission to develop international polo. He was an early believer in making polo relevant in a developing world economy. Obtaining Olympic recognition for polo, FIP spurred many countries to achieve a meaningful level of competition at 14-goals. The FIP World Cup grew from an idea and was tirelessly developed into an international polo event which was truly aspirational for budding enthusiasts the world over.
Over the next 30 years, I was fortunate enough to have Marcos as a friend, mentor and guide, introducing me to polo in Argentina, playing with his family at Puerta Abierta, joining FIP as an Ambassador and serving on the Council of Administration and Executive Committee.
Pic: Guadalupe Aizaga
Marcos was instrumental in steering us in smaller countries in Asia towards international polo competition. He supported the concept of allowing Singapore to participate in the 2003 World Cup Qualifiers even though we had one borrowed player to make the handicap; the condition was that we could not progress to the next round even if we won! Our Malaysian friends came to the rescue with their 6-goaler; we played and lost but the experience and inspiration was invaluable. It opened Southeast Asia to the FIP and, by 2011, with the support of His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang, Malaysia joined FIP and hosted the Zone Playoffs.
When we needed ideas, support, and competition compliance to hold the 1st FIP Snow Polo World Cup in Tianjin, China, it was Marcos again who was a key advisor and supporter in our effort to bring China into the world of international polo. We held five Snow Polo World Cups with the hard work of many in the polo community, but always with the steady guidance of Marcos always advising gently to unlock difficult situations.
Polo aside, Silvia and Marcos Uranga were very generous with their time and friendship. A visit to the Uranga household was a permanent feature in my trips to Argentina. There, I was always warmly received and ended up developing a close friendship with Diego and also Delfin. Diego and I share a strong friendship playing together in Argentina and then again in Thailand, where we won the Thai Open in 2012 at Thai Polo in Pattaya. My polo portrait of “the perfect stroke” by Alejandro Moy was on a horse I played at the AAP grounds in Pilar, belonging to Marcos.
So dear Marcos, thank you so much for all that you have meant to so many of us. To Silvia and the family, we send our best wishes that you remain strong in this most difficult of life’s transitions and always cherish the rich memories of a life well spent. After all, as Marcos would always tell us, “This is the beginning of a wonderful party”. May we all live up to the legacy you have left us Marcos; in friendship, in international polo; God Bless and may you rest in peace.