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NOVEMBER 2001 Contents
Page 3 of 8
PAKISTAN SQUASH - THE
(All photos courtesy Squashtalk.com)
THE OTHER ORIGINAL KHANS (Azam, Roshan, Mohibullah)
Azam Khan, is Hashim's younger brother. Initially Azam's game was tennis. Howeverit all changed in 1952 when Hashim decided to find a successor for himself. Many rackets broken on Azam's back later, Azam would play Hashim in almost all the subsequent British open and other major finals. Azam was also the British Open winner of 1958,¹59,¹60, and ¹61 when a ruptured tendon in his ankle terminated his career.
Short of built, Azam was a great relier on the basic virtues of the game but nobody hit the volley drop nick better. Jonah Barrington called him ‘Azam the accountant’ in his book Murder in the Squash Court. "If Hashim was the most devastating savage of the great Khans, and Roshan the most beautiful stroke player, Azam would have been the little accountant, methodically arranging all the bits and pieces of the game, having everything under close analysis, nothing out of place … he was meticulous, organised, ruthlessly clinical and very deft … he was unbelievably efficient … he constantly sucked you into situations from which it was impossible to extricate yourself … he was totally silent on court, like a little bird. There was none of this stamping and pounding that one hears so frequently these days; he moved like a ghost, silently hither and thither. Yet wherever you hit the ball, he was there."
Such was his proficiency that Jonah Barrington was taken to play him, in the first year that Jonah won the British Open (1966), at the West London club which Azam owns, the New Grampians in Shepherds Bush. Jonah lost to Azam 9-0,9-1,9-0. He requested another match, which Jonah also lost in a similar manner.
Roshan Khan, father of the late Torsam Khan and Jahangir Khan is a distant cousin of Hashim and Azam. A true rags to riches story, a story of hunger and deprivation, Roshan¹s story cannot be recounted in a short space. He had the most exquisite strokes the game was ever to see. His abiding regret, one which he carries to this day that despite friendship, Hashim and Azam avoided playing him is probably justified. But in all fairness Roshan Khan was always injury prone and his injuries probably contributed to the lack of success his enormous talent justified. He won the British Open in 1957 beating both Azam and Hashim in succession. He was, to use his words, actually competing "against 3 Geoff Hunts – Hashim, Azam and Mohibullah." It was however in the USA that Roshan created his biggest fan following due to the exquisiteness of his stroke play.
Mohibullah Khan (Late) won the British Open in 1962 which incidentally heralded thetemporary demise of Pakistani domination of Squash till 1970. He was Hashim's/Azam's nephew (sister's son). A left hander, Mohib's Squash was scorching. A player with greater speed has not been produced to this day. A great showman, Mohib would actually execute a somersault,drop his racket, allow a top player to hit an apparent winner, only to return the compliment. He played believing there were no tomorrows. Rex Bellamy describes Monibullah as " … an extrovert, an actor, lived life fully; and in court thumped, banged, crashed about like an angry octopus." As a result of his friendship with President John Kennedy, Mohib migrated to the USA to the Harvard Club in Boston where he died in 1995.
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