He's been called the Brad Pitt of polo. But if you ask Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras, he'd sooner liken himself to Tiger Woods. Like Tiger, Nacho is a superstar athlete who's at the top of his game…and he's no stranger to the camera.
In 2005, Ralph Lauren named Nacho the face of the Black Label line, and later, the fashion icon became the sponsor of Nacho's Argentinean polo team, BlackWatch.
"I was very lucky to meet Ralph Lauren maybe in the year 2000. He thought, at the time, that it would be great to have the actual polo player be in the ad," Nacho says. "It has been an honor to work with him, and he has given me the opportunity of giving the world more of an idea of what my sport is all about, which is one [of] my missions in life."
While polo is wildly popular in many countries, some Americans still think of it as an elitist sport. It is, after all, known as the "sport of kings." But, if Nacho is any indication, you don't have to be rich or royal to play.
As a boy in Buenos Aires, Nacho grew up in middle-class family and began playing polo when he was just 8 years old. "I'm a regular guy from Argentina," he says. "I'm here with you guys today because I'm a polo player."
As one of the most popular polo players in recent history, Nacho is doing his part to bring the game to the masses. In May 2008, he organized the second annual Manhattan Polo Classic, which was held on Governor's Island in New York. The exhibition was free, open to the public and featured two prominent players…Nacho and England's Prince Harry.
In June 2009, Vanity Fair readers voted Nacho one of the most handsome men in the world—second only to Twilight star Robert Pattinson—but this married father of three doesn't devote much attention to his looks. He's too busy caring for his horses, which he says are his passion, and trying to survive another day on the polo field. "You can actually die playing [polo], so it's a very dangerous thing," he says. "You have to be conscious, but you've also got to be a little bit crazy."