On 10th of December 1963 Pakistan was gifted with an individual who took the world by awe in the squash arena and his achievements inspired many others to not only get their feet wet but follow his footsteps to pursue careers in squash.
He was unbeaten for 555 straight consecutive matches which is the longest winning streak in any sport.
He went without losing for almost 6 years.
He won the British Open 10 times and the World Open in Squash 6 times.
He was born with a hernia that required two operations and was told by the doctors that he could not play any other game let alone squash.
Yes, we are talking about none other than Jahangir Khan “The Conqueror”: The Legend of Squash.
The former World No 1 player from Pakistan was born in Karachi and won his World Championship the World Amateur Championships at the age of 15 and then followed on to become the youngest ever World Open Squash Champion at the age of 17.
Jahangir Khan had the flare from very beginning and probably it was in his genes to be a squash player. After all he was the son of Roshan Khan (1957 British Open Champion). Squash ran in the family as Jahangir Khan had three consecutive elders his father, his brother Torsam Khan and then his cousin Rehmat Khan as his mentors and coach.
He proved his skills in the World Amateur Individual Championship after being dropped by the Pakistan selectors in 1979 for World Championship and became the youngest ever champion at the age of 15 and he never looked back. He has on his belt a long streak of unbeaten 555 consecutive matches run extended over a period of a little over 5 and a half years.
This was not it ! The British Open is like the Wimbledon of Squash and is the oldest and most competitive tournament of the sport. He also won the British Open Championship for10 consecutive years from 1982-1991, the year of his retirement. Jahangir’s father Roshan Khan had also won the British Open Championship in 1957. They are the only father and son to achieve this feat. He was one of the players who is said to have retired to give way to new talent from Pakistan and from the world.
With a total of Six World Open Championships on his belt he is the first ever player to have won a World Open without dropping a game and played the longest squash match of the history of 2 hours and 46 minutes in 1983.
All of this did not come easily. Jahangir’s father was informed by the doctors that he would not be able to play any sport let alone squash due to the hernia which had to be operated twice. Jahangir had even come to a point in his career when he decided to quit the sport. This was when his elder brother and mentor Torsam Khan who was a world champion before he suffered a heart attack during a match and died on a court at Adelaide, Australia. Jahangir who was extremely close to Torsam was greatly affected by his untimely death and at this point had decided to even quit the game, but later changed his decision only to live out his brother’s dream. In the end, it gave him more strength to reach such heights says Jahangir.
But it was the passion for the sport that Jahangir had along with hard work and dedication that made it possible for him to overcome all the obstacles. Jahangir who is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the game was also quite simply the fittest player in the game. He would wear his opponents down through long rallies and played at a furious pace. It was his vigorous training regime consisted of running, playing squash and exercising in the gym that made him invincible. He would cover 10 miles a day in short and long-distance running, and would train for seven to eight hours each day.
Jahangir Khan has been awarded with Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan. He became the second President of World Squash Federation and has been named in Time Magazine’s list as one of Asia’s hero of last 60 years. Due to his immense and absolute dominance in squash he was nicknamed “The Conqueror” which is also a loose translation of his name.
He retired as a player in 1993.