Half Peruvian and half Chinese, Guillermo Li shares his polo inspiration and aspirations with the SD Polo Club. Handicap 5.
Tell us about yourself. How did you start playing polo?
I grew up in Peru and my dad played polo. Initially, I didn’t like horses, but after being around them so much, I grew to love them. I started playing at 13. In 2002, I started traveling internationally. Both of my brothers play polo, too.
Where have you played?
Everywhere. Colombia, Equador, Chile, Brazil, Australia, North America, South America… do you want me to keep going?
Sounds like you’re well traveled. When did you come to San Diego?
Two years ago. A friend recommended me to Ramon Richard.
What or who inspired you to play polo?
At one point in my life, Aldolfo Cambiaso. He’s the best player in the world, no?
Yes, he is. And what is your favorite thing about polo?
Adrenaline and being on a team.
Have you ever had a bad injury?
Oh, yes, a couple. I was playing in Colombia in 2004 and I was hit with a mallet in the eye. I’m half blind in my right eye.
Wow! That’s something that could change your career. Have you ever thought of doing something else? What’s in store for the future?
I hope to continue to develop as a player and continue teaching polo in Peru and Mexico.
He has 30 horses, 3 kids, 1 wife and a whole lot of love for polo. In our opinion, Ashton has grown into a great team player, and often times you will hear him communicating with his team during play. Having Ashton on your team may be your greatest asset.
How did you start playing polo?
I started grooming for Casablanca (an American team in San Diego) and took lessons with the White Family. I picked it up quickly and soon became pro.
Have you ever had a bad injury?
(laughs) You name the bone, I’ve broken it. Hand, wrist, cheek, nose, foot…
How did they happen?
Mostly from being bucked off. But I played through the game. You have to.
Is there any technique to falling off a horse?
Yea, don’t fall off.
What about finding a groom? Do you have any advice?
Trial and error. Everyone likes things a little different, so a good groom is taught by the horse’s owner or pro.
How many horses do you have?
30. A lot of them are young and not ready to play polo yet.
Wow. That must take up a lot of time. What is your daily routine?
Wake up early, check on the horses, ride a few sets, chill and either play in the afternoon, stick and ball or ride again.
Where are you from?
My father is from Austria, but I’m from here (USA). I’ve done a lot of traveling in Europe, Asia, etc. My wife, Marisa, is from Guatemala, so we’ve traveled in Central America quite a bit.
Didn’t you just take a vacation?
Yea, to Thailand with my wife and kids. It was gorgeous. We went to the Philippines and Singapore too.
Ashton & Marisa
Ashton & Matias
Tell us about your kids.
Ana Sophia is 5, Matias will be 3 in a couple weeks and Isabella will be 1 in September. Isabella is running the show. They like to help me with the horses- feed, ride, or wrap their legs (mainly just Soph). We are like any normal family- go to the beach, play outside, ride bikes, anything really.
You and Marisa seem pretty laid back. It’s hard to imagine you have 3 kids and 30 horses!
My wife is amazing! Plus, we have tons of family and friends that love the kids as much as we do. Everyone contributes to their lives.
Matias, Erika (soon to be Auntie), Sophia, Isabella, Uncle Coco (Marisa’s brother), Marisa. Supporting Papa Ashton at Empire Polo Club.
We sat down with the shy and very humble Diego Cossio and learned a few surprises about this polo star.
How did you get your start?
I started playing in 1996 in the US. I played for 10 years under the famous Steve Crowder. He’s a good man and I owe him a lot.
Where do you play now?
San Diego of course, but I love playing in Calgary and Florida.
Don’t put that.
What is your favorite sport to watch?
Ice hockey because it’s similar to polo in that the key is following the ball and pushing players out of the way. Soccer too.
What about when you want to veg out?
Veg out? Family Guy. It’s light hearted and easy to watch. The stuff they get away with is crazy.
Horror definitely. The Exorcist.
Wow. It’s been a while. The Alchemist – it’s simple but the ending is very good.
Can you play any instruments?
I’m actually an accomplished musician, you didn’t know that? I’ve been playing guitar for a few years, self taught.
So, what’s on your iPod?
Slayer, Rob Zombie, Alice in Chains, Pantera.
Anything in spanish?
Oh yea, Hermetica! They are a really good heavy metal band in Argentina.
What’s a typical meal?
Meat. If I can eat steak 3-4 times a week, I’m happy.
Any exciting news?
I’m taking a trip to Europe with my girlfriend, just for fun. We are leaving Colton behind for a couple of days. We don’t have plans, just a wedding to attend in Scotland, then backpack around for a bit.
Stacy and Colton, Diego’s family.
Sounds fun. What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to continue playing polo for a few years. Eventually, I would want to go back to farming sugar cane – I grew up doing it. I just really love the whole process.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Home – Tucumán Province, Argentina (known internationally for its sugarcane).
Our player profile this week features the somewhat shy Miguel Gutierrez of Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you are saying to yourself, that handsome face looks familiar, it’s because it graces our general admission ticket for the 2011 season. Miguel jokes it’s the first step in his eventual rise to fame. He hopes to someday upstage his cousin and fellow polo player Mariano Gutierrez, who was featured in the music video for Britney Spear’s Radar. Miguel wants to let Britney know if she ever wants to remake her Oops!… I Did It Again video, he’s available!
Miguel is a seasoned player who has professionally competed around the world and he comes to The San Diego Polo Club after finishing a season at the North Church Farm Polo Club in London. Separate of Argentina, his favorite location to compete is Indio, California. Miguel says with a quiet voice, “I don’t know, I just love the mountains and the landscape of the desert and after playing there for so many years, it has become like a home away from home for me.”
There is no questioning his passion for the sport and when asked what he do would do if ever won the lottery, he softly remarks, “I’d still keep playing polo, I can’t really imagine doing anything else.” It’s a fitting answer, as polo is a tradition that is deeply rooted in his family. He learned the sport from his grandfather and he someday hopes to pass along the game to his own children.
When he’s not playing polo or dreaming of fame, he is usually listening to music or fawning over Rita, his fierce pittbull and in many ways the love of his life! Sadly, Rita was unable to accompany Miguel on this trip to San Diego and with a sad look on his face he tells us, “I really miss her….” It’s the first time the two have been apart since he rescued her from a gas station 10 years ago.