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Jahangir Khan, HI, (born December 10 1963, in Karachimarker, Pakistanmarker) (sometimes spelled "Jehangir Khan") is a former World No. 1 professional squash player from Pakistan, who is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the game. During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times. Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports. He retired as a player in 1993, and has served as President of the World Squash Federation since 2002.

Playing career

Jahangir was coached initially by his father, Roshan Khan, the 1957 British Open champion, and then by his cousin Rehmat Khan, who guided Jahangir through most of his career. Ironically, during his earlier years, Jahangir was a sickly child and physically very weak. Though the doctors had advised him not to take part in any sort physical activity, after undergoing a couple of hernia operations his father let him play and try out their family game.

In 1979, the Pakistan selectors decided not to select Jahangir to play in the world championships in Australia, judging him too weak from a recent illness. Jahangir decided instead to enter himself in the World Amateur Individual Championship and, at the age of 15, became the youngest-ever winner of that event.

In November 1979, Jahangir's older brother Torsam Khan, who had been one of the leading international squash players in the 1970s, died suddenly of a heart attack during a tournament match in Australia. Torsam's death affected Jahangir profoundly. He considered quitting the game, but decided to pursue a career in the sport as a tribute to his brother.

Five-year unbeaten run

In 1981, when he was 17, Jahangir became the youngest winner of the World Open, beating Australia's Geoff Hunt (the game's dominant player in the late-1970s) in the final. That tournament marked the start of an unbeaten run which lasted for five years and over 500 matches. The hallmark of his play was his incredible fitness and stamina, which Rehmat Khan helped him build-up through a punishing training and conditioning regime. Jahangir was quite simply the fittest player in the game, and would wear his opponents down through long rallies played at a furious pace.

In 1982, Jahangir astonished everyone by winning the International Squash Players Association Championship without losing a single point.

The unbeaten run finally came to end in the final of the World Open in 1986 in Toulousemarker, Francemarker, when Jahangir lost to New Zealandmarker's Ross Norman. Norman had been in pursuit of Jahangir's unbeaten streak, being beaten time and time again. "One day Jahangir will be slightly off his game and I will get him," he vowed for five years.

Speaking about his unbeaten streak, Jahangir said: "It wasn't my plan to create such a record. All I did was put in the effort to win every match I played and it went on for weeks, months and years until my defeat to Ross Norman in Toulouse in 1986."

"The pressure began to mount as I kept winning every time and people were anxious to see if I could be beaten. In that World Open final, Ross got me. It was exactly five years and eight months. I was unbeaten for another nine months after that defeat."

Success in the hardball game

With his dominance over the international squash game in the first half of the 1980s secure, Jahangir decided to test his ability on the North American hardball squash circuit in 1983-1986. (Hardball squash is a North American variant of the game, played on smaller courts with a faster-moving ball.) Jahangir played in 13 top-level hardball tournaments during this period, winning 12 of them. He faced the leading American player on the circuit at the time, Mark Talbott, on 11 occasions (all in tournament finals), and won 10 of their encounters. With his domination of both the softball and hardball versions of the game, Jahangir truly cemented his reputation as the world's greatest squash player. His success in North America is considered by some observers to be among the factors which led to growing interest in the international "softball" version of squash in the continent, and the demise of the hardball game in the late-1980s and 1990s.

Rivalry with Jansher Khan

At the end of 1986 another Pakistani squash player, Jansher Khan, appeared on the international scene to challenge Jahangir's domination. (Jansher is not known to be directly related to Jahangir, but their families originate from the same village in the Peshawarmarker region of northern Pakistan, so they may be distantly related.) Jahangir won their first few encounters in late-1986 and early-1987. But Jansher scored his first win over Jahangir in September 1987, beating him in straight games in the semi-finals of the Hong Kongmarker Open. Jansher then went on to beat Jahangir in their next eight consecutive encounters and capture the 1987 World Open title.

Jahangir ended Jansher's winning streak in March 1988, and went on to win 11 of their next 15 encounters. The pair met in the 1988 World Open final, with Jahangir emerging the victor. But by that point it had become clear that squash now had two dominant players. The pair would continue to dominate the game for the rest of the decade. Jansher and Jahangir met a total of 37 times in tournament play. Jansher won 19 matches (74 games and 1,426 points), and Jahangir 18 matches (79 games and 1,459 points). This record doesn't include exhibition matches and league matches between them.

Jahangir did not win the World Open again after 1988, but he continued a stranglehold over the British Open title which he captured a record ten successive times between 1982 and 1991.

World Open final appearances

Wins (6)
Year Opponent in final Score in final
1981 Geoff Hunt 7-9, 9-1, 9-2, 9-2
1982 Dean Williams 9-2, 6-9, 9-1, 9-1
1983 Chris Dittmar 9-3, 9-6, 9-0
1984 Qamar Zaman 9-0, 9-3, 9-4
1985 Ross Norman 9-4, 4-9, 9-5, 9-1
1988 Jansher Khan 9-6, 9-2, 9-2
Runner-ups (3)
Year Opponent in final Score in final
1986 Ross Norman 9-5, 9-7, 7-9, 9-1
1991 Rodney Martin 14-17, 15-9, 15-4, 15-13
1993 Jansher Khan 14-15, 15-9, 15-5, 15-5


British Open final appearances

Wins (10)
Year Opponent in final Score in final
1982 Hiddy Jahan 9-2, 10-9, 9-3
1983 Gamal Awad 9-2, 9-5, 9-1
1984 Qamar Zaman 9-0, 9-3, 9-5
1985 Chris Dittmar 9-3, 9-2, 9-5
1986 Ross Norman 9-6, 9-4, 9-6
1987 Jansher Khan 9-6, 9-0, 9-5
1988 Rodney Martin 9-2, 9-10, 9-0, 9-1
1989 Rodney Martin 9-2, 3-9, 9-5, 0-9, 9-2
1990 Rodney Martin 9-6, 10-8, 9-1
1991 Jansher Khan 2-9, 9-4, 9-4, 9-0
Runner-ups (1)
Year Opponent in final Score in final
1981 Geoff Hunt 9-2, 9-7, 5-9, 9-7


Training Regime

In a documentary on himself telecast on GEO Super, Jahangir revealed that he never had any fixed training regime particularly designed for him, nor had he any specially formulated diet - he would eat anything hygienic but never miss two glasses of milk every day.

For his training, he would often start his day with a 9 mile jog which he would complete in 60-120 minutes at a moderate pace, followed by short bursts of timed sprints. Later he would weight train in the gym finally cooling down in the pools. He would follow this routine 5 days a week. On the 6th day he would match practice and rest on the 7th day.

He also said that he has experienced running on every surface - from custom-built tracks to asphalt roads, grass & farm fields to sea shores & knee-deep waters. Sometimes he would also visit the northern areas of Pakistan to train in high altitude fields under low oxygen conditions. All in all it made Jahangir one of the most physically and mentally fit athletes in the world.

Personal life

Jahangir currently lives in Karachi, with his wife, Rubina, and their two children, Omar, and Marium. His niece is Natasha Khan, also known by her artist name Bat for Lashes.

Awards, services & recognition

Jahangir retired as a player in 1993 after helping Pakistan win the World Team Championship in Karachi. The Government of Pakistan honored Jahangir with the awards of Pride of Performance and civil award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz for his achievements in squash. They also awarded him the title of Sportsman of the Millennium.

In 1990, Jahangir was elected Chairman of the Professional Squash Association, and in 1997, 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. In 2004, he was again unanimously re-elected as President of the World Squash Federation at the International Federation's 33rd Annual General Meeting in Casa Noyale, Mauritiusmarker.

Jahangir is listed in Guinness Book of World Records as having the most world championship squash titles [89587].

Time Magazine has named Jahangir as one of Asia's Heroes in the last 60 years.

Jahangir Khan was conferred with a Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by London Metropolitan Universitymarker for his contributions to the sport.

Due to his immense and absolute dominance in squash he was nicknamed "The Conqueror" (a loose translation of his first name).

In his book, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir the former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf states: "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."

See also



References

  1. Jahangir Khan, beyondsport.org
  2. Greatest player, squashsite.co.uk
  3. Jahangir injury hastens final exit, The Independent, 24 September 1992
  4. Jahangir Khan hopes for squash's 2016 Olympic debut, webindia123.com, 26 August 2008


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