The origins of polo are not quite clear yet it is thought to have originated in Persia around the 6th Century bc. The name comes from “pulu” or ball in Tibetan. Many historians believe this sport comes from Persian tribes previous to the times of Darius I, The Great, year 521-485bc and the founding of the second Persian Empire. Persian literature and art are certainly the most important registers of the practice of Polo in the old days. The most famous Persian poet and historian, Ferdowsi gives an account of Royal Polo tournaments in his epic work ( Shahnameh )dating back to the 9th Century. Some people hold though, that it was the Chinese who first practiced the sport but the oldest record by Ferdowsi mentions a match between Turanian forces followers and Syavoush a legendary Persian prince. The poem stresses clearly Syavoush’s habilities for the game and also mentions Emperor Sapour II who learned the sport when he was only seven years old.
In countries like China, Polo became a royal entertainment for many centuries. It was probably introduced in China by the Persian Nobility who went there looking for political asylum after the Arab invasion of their territories. In many Chinese coats of arms, a Polo hammer can be seen and a sport became a part of daily life during the Golden Era of Chinese culture under Ming-Hung who was a lover of equestrian activities.
For over twenty centuries Polo was one of the favourite pastimes of Asian rulers. Queens practiced it as well as the Nobility in general and the warrior class. For those who were not Persian, Polo was the closest they came to having a National sport from Japan to Egypt and from India to the Byzantine Empire. With the fall of the great Oriental Kingdoms, Polo was only practiced in remote villages.
Polo reached the West through Manipur a North Eastern Indian State. According to historical registers, a British Government representative who had settled in Manipur wrote a brief description of the sport which contributed to it being spread to other countries. Afterwards, Polo would reach the Americas and become quite popular in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the United States. James Gordon Bennett was the first person to organize a Polo match in the USA.