Image Courtesy: Google Doodle
Hashim Khan (1 July 1914 – 18 August 2014) was a squash player from Pakistan. He won the British Open Squash Championships (the then de facto world championship) a total of seven times, from 1951 to 1956, and then again in 1958. Khan was the patriarch of the Khan squash family, which dominated the sport from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Life and Career
He was born on 1 July 1914. Khan was raised in Peshawar, a small village in what was then India. His father worked at a British officers’ club with squash courts where Khan apprenticed as a ballboy. Learning the ropes of the sport while on his off-hours, Khan played barefoot on the club’s rough brick courts—an early testament to his tenacity. By age 28, Khan became a squash pro and soon after, a national champion of the sport. After winning three All-of-India titles, the newly independent government of Pakistan drafted him to represent the country at the 1951 British Open.
Khan dominated during his first appearance at the British Open, considered squash’s world championship at the time, and went on to take home the grand prize. He returned to Pakistan a national hero with a million people greeting him upon his arrival. This monumental victory became the first hurrah of the Khan family’s squash dynasty. Over the next 46 years, the tournament was won 29 times by either Khan or one of his relatives, including renowned players Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Establishing a career that earned him a spot in the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, Khan won seven British Opens, five British Professional Championships, three U.S. Opens, and three Canadian Opens.
Hashim Khan passed away on 18 August 2014 at the age of 100, but his legacy in the sport of squash lives on.
Award and Legacy
Hashim Khan’s accomplishments in the sport of squash have been widely recognized with numerous awards and honors, including:
- President’s Pride of Performance Award (Pakistan, 1958)
- World Squash Hall of Fame (inaugural inductee, 1986)
- Pakistan Sports Hall of Fame (inaugural inductee, 1991)
- Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award by the Government of Pakistan in 2008
Khan’s legacy in the sport of squash is significant. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and played a pivotal role in the development of modern squash as a competitive sport. His success helped to popularize the sport in Pakistan and inspired generations of players, including his own relatives Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, both of whom went on to become world champions.
Khan’s influence on the sport also extended beyond his playing career. He was a mentor and coach to many young players, and he helped to establish the Hashim Khan Squash Academy in Pakistan, which provides training and support to young players from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Today, Khan is remembered as a true icon of the sport of squash, a pioneer, and a legend whose legacy continues to inspire and motivate squash players around the world.
On 4 April 2020, Google celebrated Hashim Khan with a doodle. On this day in 1951, Khan won the British Open Squash Championships propelling him from relative obscurity to the status of an international icon.