RIP Hasim Khan!
Hashim Khan was born in Nawakille (sometimes spelled “Noakili”), a small village near Peshawar in modern-day Pakistan. He won the British Open seven times between 1951 and 1958.
“Within the game, he was an iconic player, arguably the greatest player ever,” said James Zug, a leading historian of the sport. In Pakistan, Mr. Khan became a folk hero and a symbol of national pride soon after the bloody partition from India.
Likening him to baseball’s Jackie Robinson, Zug said that Mr. Khan, “broke a lot of barriers for a sport that for that time in the U.S. was an elite country-club sport. Here was this guy who was a Muslim, from Asia, and hanging out with white players off the court and working at their clubs. That was a watershed moment for the game of squash and in American society.”He was 11 when his father died in a car accident, and Mr. Khan left school to work full time as a ball boy and cleaning the courts. “For sweeping the place, they paid me four annas a day,” he told the New York Times in 1957. “One anna is a sixteenth part of a rupee. Five rupees equals one American dollar.”
On the side, he apprenticed for five years under an assistant pro at the club willing to show him the proper way to hold a racket, the way not to exhaust oneself, how to bend for the ball and when to snap one’s wrist. He got good fast.
He was in his late 30s when the new government of Pakistan — specifically its air force — sponsored him for the British Open in 1951. At the age when many players retire, he bested the world’s reigning champion, Mahmoud El Karim of Egypt, 9-5, 9-0, 9-0.
Herbert Warren Wind, said, “The more I think about it the more convinced I am that the greatest athlete for his age the world has ever seen may well be Hashim Khan.”
Resource: Hashim Khan