Polo was first played in Hawaii before it was played anywhere else in the United States under the reign of King David Kalakaua. The first documented match occurred on a field in Palama in 1880 between British Naval Officers and local residents. The King favored this noble sport so much, he eventually developed Kapiolani Park into a polo field and race track where he would entertain domestic leaders and foreign dignitaries.
In 1881 Kalakaua, embarked on a world tour that lasted 281 days. Making him the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe. While his primary interests focused around expanding Hawaii's international agricultural work force by way of Asia, he also scheduled time to meet the Queen of England. He was so impressed by the lifestyle of the European royalty, that he began emulating that in his reign. From developing a palace furnished with elaborate furnishings, to public coronations and unique sporting events such as polo, King Kalakaua was ahead of his time. In 1881, while on his World Tour, Kalakaua stopped in Kentucky to visit the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm of Milton Sanford. There he purchased two stallions and five mares. Two years later Kalakaua and his brother-in-law John Dominis would build a race track and polo field for their Kapiolani Park Association, that housed a clubhouse and a grandstand where hundreds of people would line the track to tailgate on the weekends.
One of the missions of The Hawaii International Polo Association is to bring polo back to Kapiolani Park via a Kings Cup. "There is no where else in the world that hosts a Kings Cup," says Dawson. "it only makes sense that Hawaii follow in the footsteps of our King and set a new standard in public sports."