Squash - All in a Family

The history of squash in Pakistan started with a very humble effort in 1950 with the patronage of Pakistan Air Force. But soon it was to dominate the world squash scene for over four decades when it died as quickly as it has risen to its zenith. Here is the story of rise and fall of squash in Pakistan

The Legendry Hashim Khan

hashimHashim Khan was born in the remote village of Nawakili, NWFP some 31 years before independence. His father Abdullah Khan was a head waiter in the Peshawar Officers Club and that's how the young Hashim got a chance to like and then develop an obsession with the game. In evenings when officers had left, young Hashim would enter the court bare footed and played alone with used racquets and torn squash balls. Hashim lost his father at age 11, but his passion for squash never ended.
By the time he was 26, he was master of the game and was given a job in the Air Force Mess. In 1944 he won All India Championship. This was a cue for many more glories in days to come. Soon after partition, Hashim won All Pakistan Squash title in 1949. This was the time when it was thought that Pakistan should enter the world squash scene and no do doubt Hashim was selected to participate in the British Open in 1951 when he was already 36, an age when most players had already gone past their glorious years. But for Hashim it was just the start. In years to come Hashim won British Open seven times, six consecutively. His last title was won in 1958. when he was 41. In addition to British Open, Hashim also won the American title three times, 1956, 1857 and 1963 when he was 48.

All in the family

Seeing the progress and laurels earned by Hashim, his younger brother Azam, his cousin Roshan and nephew Mohibullah (the elder) also joined in. Thus it became a family game and they ruled the world un challenged. Out of 26 finalists in the 13 British Opens between 1950 and 1962 the KHANS occupied 22 places.

The Next Generation

After the older generation had played the last of their masterly strokes and Hashim, Azam and Roshan were too old for the American circuit, nephew Mohibullah took over, only to lose to Sharif, Hashim's eldest son 1967. Sharif the Sheriff (as he became known) won the North American title 12 times.

The Roaring Jahangir Khan

Jahangir KhanJahangir Khan, the British Open title laureate started off his squash career at 15 when he won the world amateur title. However, at one stage death of his elder brother Torsam Khan who was in the top 15 in the world rankings and was president of the International Squash Players Associations (ISPA) had a profound effect on little Jahangir who decided not to pursue squash anymore. It was his cousin Rehmat Khan, who himself was number 12th in the world ranking, who persuaded Jahangir to carry on, because Torsam had seen in Jahangir a future British Open champion.
Jahangir took the world championship from Geoff Hunt in Toronto on November 28, 1981 when he was only 17 - almost less than half the age of his uncle Hashim Khan who got the title at 36. Jahangir then rose to many glories - a tribute to his untiring stamina and footwork. He never lost any game and the score line 9-7, 9-1, 9-0, became a Jahangir trademark. The unbeaten Jahangir continued to roar on the court but the lion had to be tamed one day. That day came in 1986 when Jahangir finally lost to Ross Norman. But Jahangir did not accept the fait accompli and beat Ross in next tournament in straight games. In the meantime, another Khan, Jansher Khan son of Roshan, had started shaping himself to beat no one else but his cousin Jahangir. Though Jahangir defeated Jansher 9-6, 9-0, 9-5 in the 1987 British Open, Jansher had made his presence felt in the court.
Jahangir won the British Open title ten consecutive times -  a record that may remain unbeaten forever.

The Fight between Two JKs

Keeping up with the family traditions, Jansher Khan entered the court to rule. He and Jahangir - one was to stay at top. The two JK's came face to face in Pakistan Open in December 1986. Although Jahangir won, but Jansher managed to take a game - the beginning has set in.
Finally the day came when Jansher had his dream come true when he beat Jahangir 3-0 in the Hong Kong Open in September 1987 in the semi-final. That historic win was the start of an eight match domination over the formerly unbeatable Jahangir. In Birmingham in September Jansher beat Jahangir in the semi-final of the world open and went on to become world champion.
Jahangir again didn't give in easily and reversed Jansher's winning streak in March 1988 and went on to beat Jansher 11 times in their next 15 meetings. Their match in the 1988 World Open in Amsterdam was historic and unforgettable. The first rally of the first game lasted 6 minutes and 15 seconds and ended in a let - Jahangir won that match 3/0.
The pair met for the last time in the 1993 World Open and Jansher won 3/1. Jahangir retired that year, which marked the end of a most memorable display of game of squash. He had won the British Open ten years in succession from 1982 -1992, a record that remains unbeaten till date and will almost certainly stand for a very long time. He is undoubtedly the most celebrated player of Squash world ever witnessed and earned for himself the title of the "King of Squash".
Jansher KhanJansher took up where Jahangir left off, dominating the rankings and winning the British Open six times in a row. Like Jahangir, he also had his knee restricting him and he finally lost in 1998 to Peter Nicol.

End of an Era: From 1951 till 1998, the Khans had dominated the world of squash and created many still-unbeaten records. The world will never forget what successive generations of Khans had shown to them. With the ouster of Jansher, a golden era of Khans and Pakistan's domination of world titles came to an end.

roshanDeath of a Pioneer: Roshan Khan, the father of Pakistan squash legend Jahangir died at the age of 78 on 7 January 2006. Roshan won his only British Open squash title in 1957. Like Hashim, he also rose from a ball boy in squash courts and went on to play in the British Open in 1955 and won the title in 1957, besides winning US Open titles three times. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of squash in Pakistan who ruled the sport in 1980s and 1990s through Jahangir and Jansher Khan. Read More...

Hashim Khan
Hashim at 41 won his 7th British Open Title

Azam Khan won British Open four times

Roshan Khan
Roshan Khan (father of Jahangir Khan) won British Open once

Mohibbullah (left) Sharif (right)

Torsam dreamt of Jahangir rising to the world scene but couldn't live to see his dream come true

The recipients of the President's Pride of Performance Award

  • Hashim Khan
  • Roshan Khan
  • Azeem Khan
  • Jahangir Khan
  • Qamar Zaman
  • Jansher Khan
  • Mohibullah, jr

This page was created on 1 January 2005 / 2 March 2006

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