Ion Ţiriac

Count Dracula, as the Transylvania-born is known in the tennis world, Ion Ţiriac (born 9 May 1939 in Braşov), Romanian former tennis player and businessman. He is now one of the wealthiest men in Romania and is the first Romanian included by Forbes review in the classification list of billionaires from all over the world.

His father died when Ţiriac was 11; his mother worked in the local truck factory in Braşov. Young Ion celebrated his 13th birthday by shoving a whole baguette into his mouth rather than share it with his family. He has felt pangs of guilt ever since. Yet the man now owns a Ferrari Testarossa, and a Mercedes ("The most expensive car in the world," says Ţiriac) is soon to join his fleet of automobiles on several continents, a fleet large enough to embarrass your neighborhood Arab sheikh. Ţiriac first appeared on the international sports scene as an ice hockey player on the Romanian national team at the 1964 Winter Olympics. While playing hockey for Romania in Leningrad, he broke his stick in two and challenged the entire stadium. Shortly after that he switched to tennis as his main sport. With fellow Romanian Ilie Năstase he won the men's doubles in the 1970 French Open and reached the Davis Cup finals several times in the 1970s. In no particular order, Ţiriac was the first man to play against a woman in a sanctioned tournament (one Abigail Maynard, in 1975), the first player to be defaulted from a Davis Cup match for stalling, the first to be fined by World Team Tennis, the first to be suspended by the International Tennis Federation, the first to be caught taking an appearance-money guarantee (for Vilas), the first to make Stan Smith lose his temper. "I invented, more or less, myself. I am a major," Ţiriac says.

After his retirement, he was or is:

* Coach and manager of famous tennis players, such as: Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Villas, Henri Leconte, Boris Becker, Manuel Orantes, Adriano Panatta, Mary Joe Fernandez, Anke Huber and Goran Ivanisevic;
* Sports promoter in the U.S.A. and Europe and technical consultant of many companies in the same field;
* Manager of the first class ATP and WTA tennis tournaments, such as: Eurocard Open, Austrian Open, Italian Open, Faber Grand Prix and Open Romania;
* Adviser, coordinator and policy maker of the ATP World Championships organized in Hannover by Expo 2000 (World Business Exhibition) for the period 1996 - 2000;
* Adviser of the German Tennis Federation for the organization of the Davis Cup events in Germany;
* Holder and marketer-with Rupert Murdock (News International) - of the broadcasting rights of the last three World Swimming Championships;
* Investor and businessman (businessin the banking and insurance fields);
* Honorary President of the Romanian Tennis Federation.

In 1998 he became president of the Romanian National Olympic Committee. Ţiriac has held the license for the "BCR Open Romania" tennis tournament since 1996.