Get To Know Squash Champion Hashim Khan

Discover and celebrate his enduring legacy

Hashim Khan with trophies (centre) with Azam Khan with trophy (second from left) and Roshan Khan (extreme left). Circa 1950s by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

“The Squash Champion who lives on” 

Hashim Khan is the undisputed world champion of Squash who carved a name for Pakistan in the international sports arena at a time when the country had just appeared on the world map.

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with boy scouts. 1947. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Sports thrived in British India, with national teams for various games. After the 1947 Partition of South Asia, many athletes moved across the eastern and western borders to Pakistan.The founding father of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was himself a good sportsman, with a keen interest in snooker. He understood the vital role athletics played in the inculcation of discipline in people and development of societies.

Hashim Khan (second from right) and Roshan Khan (second from left) pictured in the middle with American squash players. 1958. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

When Pakistan was just beginning to show itself to the world, Khan took it to the victory stands seven times. He won the de-facto world championship- the British Open, six times in a row between 1951-56 and once more in 1958.

Hashim Khan (extreme left) pictured inside locker room for players. 1950. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Khan's stellar performances conquered the global contest for his country of choice. He is the squash legend who departed on 18th August 2014 but left behind a story of sportsmanship, struggle and success.

Azam Khan (left), younger brother of Hashim Khan, who started off as Hashim Khan's practice partner and would faced his brother a total of 11 times in final rounds. Azam Khan would go on to win the British Open four times between 1959 and 1962, and the US open in 1962. Also pictured are Roshan Khan and Hashim Khan in the middle. Circa 1950s by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Khan is believed to be the progenitor of Squash in Pakistan and beyond as his second and third generation family also include some of the most successful Squash players in the world-and so he lives on.

Newsclipping announcing Hashim Khan withdrawing from Dunlop Open Professional Tournament, which was due to pulled muscles and infected toes, aside from these ailments, Hashim Khan had an illustrious squash career. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Ball boy to trophy bearer  

Hashim Khan was born in a small village near Peshawar in pre-partition India. His father, Abdullah Khan was a head steward at the British officers’ club in Peshawar. He died in a car crash while Hashim was still a child. 

Hashim Khan (centre) and Roshan Khan (extreme left) with prizes.Roshan Khan and Hashim Khan are second cousins, both have been World Champions many times over, and have often faced each other in the final round of tournaments. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

At age 11, he had to quit school and take up the job of a ball boy at the Squash court of the same club. He was also expected to clean the courts for which he received the nominal amount of four Annas (a previously used monetary denomination-one sixteenth part of a Pakistani rupee) everyday.

Candid shot of Hashim Khan (left) and Roshan Khan (second from left).Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

As a ball boy, his job was to fetch the balls that had been hit over and beyond the courts. However, the more this menial work pushed him away from the courts the more committed he was to return.

Hashim Khan (extreme right) and Roshan Khan (second from left) at the United States Embassy in Washington. 1950. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Once the British officers were done playing, the ball boys would take over the courts and practice.

Hashim Khan (right) and Roshan Khan (second from right) at an event at the United States Embassy in Washington. 1950. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Khan gave it so much time and effort that he emerged as a self taught coach.

Azam Khan (left), Hashim Khan(middle) and Roshan Khan (extreme right). Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

In 1942 Khan was appointed as the Squash coach at the British Air Force officers’ mess and won the first All India championship in 1944 and two more times in 1945 and 1946.

Roshan Khan(left) and Hashim Khan (middle). Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

After independence, in 1947 Khan became the designated Squash coach at the Pakistan Air Force and won the first-ever Pakistan Squash championship in 1949. It is no exaggeration to say that Hashim Khan’s career is an overall winning streak. He carried the trophy for Pakistan throughout his life.

Hashim Khan (exteme left) Roshan Khan (second from left) and Azam Khan (in sunglasses) during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

One of the most dramatic of these victories was the first British Open he played against Mahmoud El Karim- who was representing Egypt. Khan beat El Karim in the 1951 final with a 9–5, 9–0, 9–0.

Hashim Khan (left), Roshan Khan (second from left), and Azam Khan (extreme right) pictured in front of a museum in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

It is reported that this was the first match in which he wore a pair of shoes as he was used to playing barefoot. He beat Karim a second time in 1952 with the nail biting scores: 9–5, 9–7, 9–0.

Hashim Khan (centre), Azam Khan (extreme right) and Roshan Khan (extreme left) pictured with group in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Khan was on a stride for the next four years. He beat R.B.R Wilson (1953 final), his own younger brother Azam Khan (Finals of 1954-55) and cousin Roshan Khan (Final of 1956).

Hashim Khan (second from right), Roshan Khan (crouched) and Azam Khan (extreme left) pictured with group in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The streak was broken in 1957 when Hashim lost to Roshan in the 1957 British Open, but he reclaimed it the following year.

Hashim Khan (extreme left) and Roshan Khan (middle) pictured with group in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Apart from British tournaments, Khan also won six North American championships. He won the US Open and the Canadian Open thrice.

Hashim khan( second from right), Roshan Khan (centre), and Azam Khan (extreme left) pictured with group in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

In memoriam to a life well lived 

Khan resettled in Detroit, USA in the 1960s with his wife and 12 children. Later he moved to Denver, Colorado where he continued playing veteran matches at the British Open, his last official one being at age 44. 

Hashim Khan (centre), Azam Khan (extreme right) and Roshan Khan (extreme left) pictured with group in Egypt during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Unofficially, he is said to have been playing Squash till he was 93. One mystery surrounding Hashim Khan was his official age. His family speculated that he lived to be at least a 100 years old, if not older.

Hashim Khan (extreme right), Azam Khan (second from left) and Roshan Khan (left) taken during international touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

A figure of inspiration within the family, Hashim trained his younger brother Azam Khan as well. They later competed against each other. His second cousin Roshan Khan was a legend in his own right and his sons, Torsam and Jahangir were trained to become international level players. Torsam passed away at age 27, while playing a match in Australia.

Roshan Khan ( extreme left), Hashim Khan (centre) and Azam Khan (right) taken during interntional touring. Circa 1950s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The death of his brother Torsam, led to a brief interlude in Jahangir’s own career, but he took that close personal loss as a personal battle and emerged as the absolute invincible Squash hero. He won 10 British Open titles in a row in the 1980s.

Hashim Khan (second from left in striped tie) and Jahangir Khan (centre in striped shirt), the son of Roshan Khan, and the next generation of the Khan family Squash dynasty to hold a record that rivals that of Hashim Khan. Jahangir Khan has one of the longest winning streaks ever by any top athlete, remaining unbeaten in 555 matches. Circa 1980s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Among Hasim Khan's children, his eldest son Sharif went on to become a big name in squash. He won the North American Open title a total of 12 times. His sons Aziz, Gulmast, Liaqat, Salim, Shaukat and Mohammad also featured in the hardball squash circuit during the 1970s.

Action shot of Jahangir Khan (left) and Jansher Khan (right), competing against one another.Both superstars within Squash, Jahangir Khan has held 6 World Championships and 10 British Open Champsionships. Jansher Khan has won 8 World Championships and 6 British Open Championships. Circa late 1980s. by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

The legacy of the famed squash family continues with Carla Khan, granddaughter of Azam Khan. She won her first title in November 2002, when she beat Mexican player Samantha Teran at the El Salvador Open. It is remarkable how Hashim Khan paved the way for squash as a sport not only for himself but for the generations to come. Apart from being an impeccable Squash player he also stood undefeated in the face of misfortune and loss.

Jahangir Khan talks about Hashim Khan by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

James Zug, Author of “Squash: A History of the Game” called Hashim Khan the world’s first squash celebrity.” by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP)The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Learning the sport with meagre gear- a broken racket, and used balls, Khan never stopped chasing his dream. His talent and hard work took him everywhere in the world. James Zug, Author of “Squash: A History of the Game” called Hashim Khan the world’s first squash celebrity.

Credits: Story

Initial Design, Concept and Layout:
Aaliyah Tayyebi

Primary Data Collection:
CAP Oral History Project Team
Serena Anthony
Aaliyah Tayyebi

Secondary Research:
Maliha Nasir
Aliya Mazari

Photo Editing and Title Artwork:
Anum Zahid
Abeer Kaisri
Syed Faizan

Video Editing:
Waleed Sohail

General Editing, Technical Support and Final Design:
Aaliyah Tayyebi

The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to cultural and historic preservation, operating in Karachi and Lahore. We seek to educate the community, foster an awareness of our nation’s history and instil pride in Pakistani citizens about their heritage.

Copyright © 2020 by Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).
All rights reserved. No part of this Exhibit may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including copying, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).

Special thanks to Jahangir Khan for taking out the time to share memories and memorabilia for the exhibition with the CAP team in Karachi.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps