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Jahangir Khan, The King of Squash

Introduction

Jahangir Khan, born on December 10, 1963, stands as a significant figure in the world of squash, with a remarkable career that redefined excellence in the sport. Notably, Khan clinched the World Open title six times and dominated the British Open title over a decade, securing it ten times between 1982 and 1991.

Moreover, his outstanding achievements have positioned him as a legendary athlete, hailed as the greatest squash player of all time, and a sporting icon in the history of Pakistan. Khan’s undisputed prowess in the game was exemplified during his unbeaten streak from 1981 to 1986, where he triumphed in an astonishing 555 consecutive matches, a feat recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest winning streak in top-level professional sports.

His legacy as the ultimate squash player is solidified by his unmatched record of continuous victories, setting a standard unparalleled in the realm of international professional sports. Remarkably, he ascended to the title of world squash champion at the youthful age of 17 and was later honored with the prestigious designation of “Athlete of the Millennium” upon retirement in 1993. Additionally, Khan’s influence extended beyond the court, as demonstrated by his tenure as President of the World Squash Federation from 2002 to 2008, and his subsequent appointment as Emeritus President in 2008. Throughout his illustrious career, Jahangir Khan’s impact transcended borders, leaving an indelible mark on the sport of squash and inspiring generations of athletes to strive for greatness.

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Jahangir Khan, The Early Years

Born with a hernia and deemed physically frail, Jahangir Khan overcame early health challenges to become a legend in the world of squash. Despite skepticism from the pediatrician, Jahangir explained in an interview that he told his father that he was physically frail and unfortunately would not be able to endure the rigidities of such a competitive sport, which, unlike many sports, is a competition of only 2 on the court, doesn’t have a team game and requires extreme skills and, above all, marvelous stamina.

Jahangir underwent surgery at a young age and began playing squash under the guidance of his father, Roshan Khan, who was not only his coach and mentor, but a player in his own right, having captured the 1957 British Open title. So, Jahangir’s journey from a weak child to a formidable squash player reflects his determination and extraordinary talent. His success in the sport also paved the way for a remarkable career marked by outstanding fitness, stamina, and a legacy that would secure his spot as one of the greatest squash players of all time.

All the men in the Khans’ family played squash, but Jahangir was a sickly child, and doctors forbade him to play sports. In November 1979, at a tournament in Australia, Jahangir’s brother died with a heart attack right on the court. The death of Torsam Khan was the push for the young Jahangir Khan, he promised himself to finish the job started by his brother and hence become the best squash player and professional athlete in the history of world sports.

“It hurt me. I was so lonely that I cried sometimes. But deep in my heart, I knew that I had no other choice but to persistently go towards the goal for the sake of the memory of Torsam Khan,” said Jahangir Khan.

All the men in the Khans’ family played squash, but Jahangir was a sickly child, and doctors forbade him to play sports.
In November 1979, at a tournament in Australia, Jahangir’s brother died with a heart attack right on the court. The death of Torsam Khan was the push for the young Jahangir Khan, he promised himself to finish the job started by his brother and hence become the best squash player and professional athlete in the history of world sports.

“It hurt me. I was so lonely that I cried sometimes. But deep in my heart, I knew that I had no other choice but to persistently go towards the goal for the sake of the memory of Torsam Khan,”

said Jahangir Khan.

The Unbeaten Champion

  • At the age of 17, exactly 2 years after his brother’s death, under the coaching of his cousin Rehmat Khan. Jahangir defeated Australian Jeff Hunt at the World Open, becoming the youngest tournament winner in the history of squash. At that time, Jeff was the best squash player in the world, so this victory was the beginning of Jahangir Khan’s absolute leadership and that shook up the whole world.
  • Numerous 8-hour workouts, 6 days a week proved Jahangir’s technique to perfection, his every movement was precisely calculated and perfectly perfect.
  • Youngest World Amateur Champion (aged 15)
  • Youngest British Open & World Champion (aged 17)
  • Unbeaten in 555 consecutive matches over 5 years and 8 months, the longest winning streak of any sportsman
  • Record 10-time British Open Champion, 1982-1991
  • Six-time World Champion
  • First player to win the World Open Championship without dropping a game
  • Played the longest squash match in history (2 hours, 46 minutes)
  • Jahangir Khan was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by London Metropolitan University for his contributions to the sport.
  • 1984: Featured on a Government of Pakistan-issued postage stamp.
  • 1999: Sport and Youth Award by the French Government
  • 2005: Times Award: Time Magazine named Khan as one of Asia’s heroes in the last 60 years.
  • 2007: Awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by London Metropolitan University.
  • 2017: Featured on a Government of Japan-issued commemorative stamp
  • 2018: Winner of the 8th Asian Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sport
  • 2023: Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan

His Advice for Parents and Upcoming youngsters

  • “Please know that success is always possible. It is not an easy road to the top, but you must stay focused and be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to work hard, practice hard, and give it your all.”
  • “Parents have to let their children choose the sport they want to pursue and support them. The child must want to play the sport, and it is no use forcing a child to play a game if he or she is uninterested.”
  • “Children today are so comfortable on their PlayStations and computer games. We have to find avenues to profile sports and make them more appealing.”
  • Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • At 15 years old, in 1979, he became the youngest-ever winner of the World Amateur Individual Championship.
  •  In November 1981, he became the youngest World Open champion of all time at 17, beating Australian favorite Geoff Hunt in the final.
  • Went on to establish a remarkable 555-match unbeaten run over five and a half years (from April 81 until Nov 86).
  • Titles included six World Open and a record ten British Open titles. · Topped the world rankings for a total of 94 months between January 1982 and April 1992.
  •  A former chairman of the Professional Squash Association, Jahangir retired from the sport in 1993 after helping Pakistan win the World Team Championship in his hometown of Karachi.
  • · First elected Vice-President of the World Squash Federation in November 1998, Jahangir was President from 2002–2008.
  •  One of the greatest sportsmen Pakistan has ever produced, Jahangir was nominated as ‘Sportsman of the Millennium’ by the Government of Pakistan.

Other Famous Personalities About Jahangir Khan

  • “Hashim Khan, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan are the best squash players the world has ever known, with Jahangir the best of the three. If Hollywood only knew his story of tragedy, grit, and determination, it would make another movie like Chariots of Fire. Many of those who know him consider him the best athlete who ever lived,” said former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf.
  • Jahangir’s numbers place him in that rare class of athlete, along with Don Bradman and Ed Moses, who might as well have come from a different planet. He lifted the level of squash by 15 to 20 percent, which is unusual, Ross Norman.
  • Jahangir Khan is my role model and I wish I could match his fitness, discipline, and dedication. Tennis Star Roger Federer during an interview while winning a Grand Slam title

 In conclusion, Jahangir Khan’s remarkable career and achievements have left a lasting legacy in the world of sports. His dedication, resilience, and passion for the game have inspired generations of athletes to strive for greatness. Jahangir Khan will always be remembered as the “King of Squash” and a true sporting icon.

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