A well-known figure in the polo community and a member of the United States Polo Association for over 60 years, David “Dave” Rizzo passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Wellington, Florida, at the age of 87. Leveraging his network in the sport to help many new players get their start in polo, Dave was the recipient of the Philip Iglehart Award in 2010. Established in 2001, this award is given to recognize exceptional lifetime contributions to the sport of polo either on a regional or national level.
Born December 29, 1932, Dave was originally from Long Island, New York. Learning from his uncle, Joe Rizzo, how to ride and train horses, play polo and earn a living as a professional horseman, Dave went on to become club manager of Meadowbrook Polo Club in Medford, New York, for over 30 years. For over half a century, Dave sold high-quality horses to a wide variety of players who played every level of polo. He also managed the Squadron A Armory and the Old Westbury Polo Club while in New York.
Reaching 5-goals outdoor and 7-goals in the arena at the height of his career, Dave played at all tournament levels, primarily on the east coast of the United States and in Italy. Known as a skilled horseman and well-known sportsman in many parts of the country by a variety of players, Dave was a mentor and a friend to many. Providing many opportunities for novice players to become involved in polo, Dave’s dedication and commitment helped to create many accomplished players and team sponsors. Teaching his son, Paul Rizzo, the craft of the polo business, Paul also became one of the top American players in his era and one of the first USPA professional umpires.
Dave Rizzo leaves behind both a legacy of passion for people and a dedication to polo.
Family always came first to Dave, and his proudest accomplishments were his grandchildren and great grandchildren. “He was truly one of a kind and will be missed by his family, friends and by the many people who knew him during the course of his life,” Dave’s cousin, Peter Rizzo, said. A life-long lover of the game, Dave is noted for having an infectious smile and always having a story to tell about polo players, horses and games that he recalled over his many years immersed in the sport.
Dave is predeceased by his beloved wife Marilyn and son Paul (Ella), sister Marie (John) and brother Vinny (Suzanne). He is survived by two daughters Joan (Steven) and Lynn (Larry); and sister Katherine (Pat); grandchildren David, Joseph (Tia), Madilyn (Stephano), Paul and Gary; great grandchildren Otis, Mae and David; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. At this time, his celebration of life service will be postponed until further notice.