robertdebalkany-23-2015-9-211GRobert de Balkany, one of the most important personalities of French equestrian sports, has passed away in France. Balkany, 84, suffered serious heart failure and unfortunately, never recovered

Robert Balkany was a very prominent businessman; his daughter, Alexandra, married Birger Strom. He was a huge polo enthusiastic, always encouraging the growth of the sport in France. He started playing in the late ’50s; his team mates include some of the biggest names in polo history, such as Charly Menditeguy and Juan Carlitos Harriott.

Balkany was the main man behind the Sainte Mesme organisation, currently the most powerful polo organisation in France. Sainte Mesme teams usually feature his son-in-law, Birger, his grandson Robert, and Clemente Zavaleta, his granddaughter Isabelle’s husband

PoloLine had the honour of interviewing in August 2014 – ROBERT ZELLIGNER DE BALKANY

PoloLine send the Balkany-Strom family their deepest condolences.


Isabelle Strom Zavaleta, daughter of Alexandra de Balkany and Birger Strom, married to Clemente Zavaleta, wrote a very moving tribute to her grandfather, which she shared with PoloLine.

Open letter to my grandfather

Dear Apé,

Your daughters and grandchildren are very thankful to be a part of your family. We are very proud to have called you grandfather; you created the dream of every human being – a loving, close family. A family that kept growing through the years, a family that was united because of polo.

Your passion for horses led you to the polo fields when you were still very young. You had a lot of polo histories to tell – you could have written an enciclopedy with all of them!

You had great friends, such as Carlitos Miguens. You left a mark everywhere you go – your stays at La Concepcion, the finals at Palermo during the 60’s, parties at Sainte Mesme with the Gypsy Kings. From polo in Cannes, Paris, Deauville to Palm Beach in the 80’s…

You had the honor to be on the polo fields alongside some of the world’s best – Charlie Menditeguy, Juan Carlitos Harriott, Daniel Gonzalez, Héctor Merlos, Frankie and Gastón Dorignac, Alberto Pedro Heguy, Alfredo Harriott, Juan José Diaz Alberdi, Gonzalo Tanoira, Mariano Aguerre, Alfonso Pieres, Lionel Macaire, just to name a few…

Today, your polo heritage is continued by your son-in-law and your grandchildren…

Determined in life, generous to people, fun-loving, enthusiastic… your personality left no one indifferent…

You’re a true legend because of your image, your personality and your charisma. You will never be forgotten.

We are very thankful for everything we learned from you; polo is very thankful to you for everything you gave and did for the sport in Europe.

I particulary am very thankful to you because I met my husband through your passion.

The family will keep growing, the family is still together; we will always have a place in our hearts for you always.

Your Granddaughter Isabelle.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.