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Friday, 31 March 2017

Polo (sport)


The earliest polo was played in Ancient Egypt where the game was practiced on foot. Spreading eastwards, it was adopted by the expert Persian horsemen and thus took on its equestrian form in the 6th century BC. Persia is now generally considered to be the true birthplace of polo.

The Persian authorities encouraged the game as it proved most helpful in teaching horsemanship and developing military qualities. For those reasons, officers of the Persian cavalry were commanded to take it up.

From Persia, the game of "horse-ball" spread both west, reaching Constantinople and Cairo, and east, as far as China and Japan.

Tang Dynasty Chinese courtiers on horseback playing a game of polo, 706 AD

The early Japanese players dribbled the ball and used a stick with an oval-shaped racket attachment at the end, instead of a mallet. At first, polo was reserved for royalty and the court.

A polo stick was presented to Alexander the Great on (or prior to) his conquest of the East. Some say he received it as a tribute; others have suggested that it was meant to be a warning: he should play with it rather than make

Firdusi, the great Persian poet who lived in the eleventh century, recorded the popularity of the game of polo at the court of the famous Sultan Mahmud.

A Persian miniature, 1546 AD

The first fatal polo accident is recalled by a monument still standing in a small side-street in the bazaar of Lahore, Pakistan. The memorial was erected on the grave of a sultan who died in 1210 after having been injured in a game. Qutubuddin Aibak, the Turkic slave from Central Asia who later became the Sultan of Delhi in Northern India, was playing a game of polo on horseback when his horse fell and Aibak was impaled on the pommel of his saddle.

The sixteenth-century Mughal emperor in India, Akbar the Great, has been called "the patron of polo," which was played regularly at his court. It was through his initiative that the first set of rules was drawn up for "horse-ball."

Tradition says that Akbar was an outstanding player who was able both to hit the ball while it was in the air, and before anyone else. However, cynics have suggested that other players deemed it wise to keep out of their ruler's way.

Picture originally from an islamic manuscript showing Akbar playing polo with his courtiers 

The modern game of polo is derived from Manipur, India, where the game was known as ' 'Pulu', a Tibetan word meaning "willow root." This referred to the wooden ball that was used, which was adopted by the sport in its slow spread to the west.

British tea planters in India, who had observed the natives playing what they called "hockey on horseback," were so taken by it that they started playing themselves.

British army officers took the game up and started adding sports features known to them at home, such as goal posts and lines. It became their favorite pastime

In 1862. the first modern polo club, Calcutta Polo Club, was established by two British soldiers, Captain Robert Stewart and (later Major General) Joe Sherer. There is some justification for calling Major Sherer, the father of polo in its modern setting.

British army officers started adding sports features known to them at home, such as goal posts and lines. It became their favorite pastime, and there is some justification for calling one of their number, Major Sherer, the father of polo in its modern setting.

The first official game of Polo in Argentina was played on September 3, 1875 after being introduced by British Ranchers.

Argentine Polo Open Championship. By Roger Schultz - Wikipedia

In 1876 James Gordon Bennett, a wealthy American publisher and sportsman, imported polo balls and mallets from England, where he had first seen polo played. He also had ponies brought to New York from Texas and sold them at $20 each to friends whom he had interested in the game. Bennett then staged the first polo match played on North American soil at Dickel's Riding Academy, on Fifth Avenue, New York on May 6, 1876.

The next year polo was transferred out of doors to a racing track north of New York, and soon the game was adopted all over the country.

Auto polo, described by a British car magazine as "a lunatic game", was popular in the USA in the 1910s.

Polo was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1939.


A game of polo is divided into periods of seven minutes, each called chukkas.

The size of a polo field is 300 by 160 yards (270 by 150 m), the largest playing field in sports.

You cannot play polo left-handed. Only right-handed players can play polo according to the U.S. Polo Association.

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