Former ballboy who set Pakistan on the road to squash glory
Tributes poured in last night from all over the world as the global squash family mourned the passing of squash’s Godfather Hashim Khan.
“The world just lost the greatest player of all time,” Mo Khan, the youngest of Khan’s 12 children told Pakistan News International.
“He’s going to be remembered for his sportsmanship and for what a wonderful man he was. He loved his family first and loved the game of squash and everyone that played the game. He was one of a kind.”
Jahangir (right), himself a world record 10-times British Open champion,said: “Hashim Khan was a great player and whatever Pakistan have won in squash was initiated by him.
“Barely three years after Pakistan’s independence in 1947, he became our first-ever sporting hero in 1951 and whatever tribute we can pay will not match his great contribution in inspiring a whole generation,” said Jahangir, who also won six world open crowns.
Hashim Khan, born in what was then British-ruled India in 1914, made his mark as a ball boy for British air force officers when they played squash.
Khan surprised everyone by winning the All-India Squash Championship in 1944, before partition, and went on to win the first of his seven British titles in 1951.
“To win seven titles at that time with few facilities in the nascent nation was remarkable,” said Jahangir, whose father Roshan beat Khan in the 1957 British Open final.
Hashim Khan won his last British title in 1958 and also won three US and as many Canadian titles.
His success inspired a generation of players in his remote home village of Nawa-e-Kali, near the northwestern city of Peshawar, to emulate his feats.
Jahangir and his contemporary Jansher Khan also hail from the same village. Jansher won the British title six times and the World Open a record eight times.
“Hashim started the Khan family tradition in the sport and was always kind to guide the youngsters,” said Jahangir, also a former president of the World Squash Federation. Hashim, Jahangir and Jansher were all distantly related.
Another former British Open winner, Qamar Zaman, said Hashim was a true champion.
“Pakistan owes him a great deal as he was the father of squash in Pakistan,” said Zaman, who won his only British title in 1975.
“We spent a lot of time together and whatever I have achieved in the sport was through his guidance. He had great stamina and love for the game.”
After years of world domination Pakistan lost its way in squash in recent years and now has very few players in the world top 50.
World Squash Federation N Ramachandran said: “After a wonderfully long and active life we are now left with memories of a great champion, a great man who has made a wonderful contribution to squash. Hashim’s passing has taken somebody so special from us. As we remember him we send our condolences and best wishes to his family at this very sad time.”
The Washington Post published a detailed and entertaining obituary which recalled the moment that Hashim Khan met England’s Prince Philip, who remarked on the squash player’s protruding belly.
“He was approaching an age when most squash players are retiring — his late 30s — when he began his remarkable run of victories at the British Open, the sport’s premier event.”
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) have paid tribute to legendary Pakistan squash player Hashim Khan, who passed away on Monday at the reported age of 100.
A seven-time winner of the prestigious British Open from 1951-58, winning his first title at the age of 37, Khan was a preeminent force in world squash during the 1950s and is considered by many to have been one of the most talented players ever to set foot on a squash court.
The inaugural force in squash’s ‘Khan Dynasty’, Hashim Khan dominated the competition during his heyday before watching brother Azam (4), cousin Roshan (1) and nephew Mohibullah (1) claim further British Open titles before Jahanghir and Jansher Khan continued that domination through to the 1990s.
“Hashim Khan was a pioneer during his career and remained one of the most charismatic individuals in the sport throughout his lifetime,” said PSA Chief Operating Officer Lee Beachill.
“He was an inspiring character who was admired by all players and the catalyst behind Pakistan’s domination of world squash from the 1950s through to the end of Jansher Khan’s era in the late 1990s.
“His charm will be sorely missed and our condolences are with his family and friends at this time.”
Squash Canada wishes the friends and family of Hashim Khan its sincere condolences on the passing of one of the greatest squash players in history. Mr. Khan died just one month after celebrating what was believed to be his 100th birthday.
The “Godfather” of squash has passed on to a new place but is no doubt already building squash courts,” said Squash Canada’s President Lolly Gillen, a friend and admirer of the Khan family. “Rarely in the lifetime of sport has one individual influenced generations of family and millions of squash players. Hashim will be forever immortalized as an icon figurehead in the history of squash worldwide.”