In Quest of Real Heroes of Pakistan: Jahangir Khan the King of Squash

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Jahangir Khan dominated international squash for the better part of a decade – during the 1980’s and 90’s. It was not at all obvious that Jahangir, physically frail and in poor health as a boy, was going to become the greatest squash champion in the history.

Jahangir Khan born in Karachi, on December 10, 1963. He was born into a squash family. His father, Roshan Khan, was a former British Open Champion and his older brother, Torsam, also an accomplished player on the international circuit.

Jahangir burst onto the international scene as a 15-year-old in 1979 when he became the youngest-ever winner of the World Amateur Individual Championship. But his brother, Torsam Khan, died of a heart attack that same year while playing in the Australian Open; with the loss of his mentor and hero, Khan nearly gave up the game. However, In November 1981, he became the youngest World Open champion of all-time at 17, beating Australian favorite Geoff Hunt in the final and honored Torsam’s memory.

Jahangir Khan might just be the most successful sporting figure in history. He went on to establish a remarkable 555-match unbeaten run over five and a half years (from April 81 until Nov 86), winning six World Open and a record 10 British Open titles in a row from 1982-1991, 13 Pakistan Opens and he rounded all this off by leading Pakistan to a historic team triumph in the World Team Championship in 1993. Even he also dominated the International and North American hardball squash as number one at the same time. For such achievements Jahangir was awarded with the titles of “The King of Squash” and “Greatest Squash Champion” by the experts of game.

“The pressure began to mount as I kept winning every time and people were anxious to see if I could be beaten.” said Jahangir Khan.
Appearances of Jahangir Khan in World Open and British Open Finals

According to Martin Bronstein of “Squash Talk”, an independent information source for squash, many players could be a hero for one game, but around the 40 minute mark of the match there would be a noticeable diminution of energy accompanied by an urgent desire for the game – and the torture – to end as quickly as possible. The score line 9-7, 9-1, 9-0, became a Jahangir trademark.

“I was told I would never become world champion. I was the youngest, smallest, feeblest and sickest of the family. Neither the doctor nor my father believed there was any chance for me to become a good squash player” – says Jahangir Khan in his book ‘Winning Squash’.

7 Most Outstanding Achievements of Jahangir Khan as Squash Player.

  • Won World Amateur Championships at age 15
  • Won World Open Championships at age 17; the youngest ever
  • Unbeaten for 5 years and 8 months; winning 555 matches consecutively
  • British Open Champion 10 times in a row (1982-1993); which remains unchallenged
  • World Open Champion 6 times – for which he is listed in the Guinness Book of World records
  • 1st player to win World Open Championships without dropping a game
  • Played longest squash match in history (1983) – 2hours, 46 minutes

Other Awards, Services and Recognitions

  • Jahangir Khan was voted the greatest ever male player by a poll on World Squash Federation Website in 2002.
  • He was awarded Hall of fame by Squash Federation in 1993.
  • Government of Pakistan presented Pride of Performance Award and the highest civil award Hilal-e-Imtiaz.
  • Jahangir was honored by putting his image on a postage stamp in 1984.
  • Jahangir Khan was awarded Sportsman of the Millennium award in Pakistan.
  • Time Magazine has named Jahangir as one of Asia’s Heroes in the last 60 years, including heroes from all walks of life.
  • Jahangir Khan was honored sports and youth award by French Government in 1990.
  • Jahangir Khan received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree from London Metropolitan University for his services to sport and society.
  • In 1990, Jahangir was elected Chairman of the Professional Squash Association
  • in 1997, Jahangir Khan was elected Vice-President of the Pakistan Squash Federation
  • He was elected as Vice-President of the World Squash Federation in November 1998, and in October 2002 was elected WSF President and in 2004, he was again unanimously re-elected as President of the World Squash Federation.

Jahangir Khan was the fittest man on earth, the finest sportsman ever, a symbol of athletic perfection. Jahangir not only dominated the sport, he redefined it.  Had an unhopeful start and become the greatest squash player of all time. Jahangir khan is the true hero and inspiration for everyone. His life is a role model for coming generations-whatever their initial circumstances are, just go and achieve great things.

“I believe my story can offer hope to millions of people all over the world who are poor, bereaved or sick. At different times, I have been all three” says Jahangir Khan.

Atiq is an IT professional, his area of interest are Socio-Politico issues of subcontinent and regional security issues with a special focus on Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Can be reached at [email protected] and tweets at @atiqpkkh.

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