Jahangir Khan — The Conqueror

Published: April 23, 2014
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Jahangir Khan was destined to be a great player because he was a genius who turned into a prodigy, who turned into a star that turned into a phenomenon, and ultimately into a living legend. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Jahangir Khan was destined to be a great player because he was a genius who turned into a prodigy, who turned into a star that turned into a phenomenon, and ultimately into a living legend. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

In December 1953, a son was born in Karachi to Roshan Khan. He was named Jahangir, the name stands for ‘conqueror’ in Urdu, and conquer he did, going on to become one of the most destructive and dominant players in the 1980s and onwards.

Though Jansher Khan challenged Jahangir whenever they clashed, but it is Jahangir who is probably the greatest squash player ever.

His rise was meteoric and he gave his all in training, redefining the very definition of hard work and dedication to maintain Pakistan’s supremacy on the world map, like his predecessors Hashim Khan and Azam Khan did among others.

He was the Pele, the Sir Vivian Richards of squash, playing the game effortlessly. He was destined to be a great player because he was a genius who turned into a prodigy, who turned into a star that turned into a phenomenon, and ultimately into a living legend.

His intense training made him probably the fittest in the game, as he soaked out the energy from his opponents, grinding them down during his triumphs. Some believe he was a symbol of athletic perfection.

It would not be wrong to label him the champion of champions because he not only dominated the sport, he set new benchmarks which seemed unattainable.

In 1979, he won the World Amateur title at the age of 15 which was a sign of things to come. Two years later, he became the youngest ever winner of the World Open Championship. As he got a taste for winning, he went onto a winning spree that culminated in his first British Open six months later.

His dominance on squash courts was absolute as he went on a record undefeated run that stretched more than five years. During that period, only one player – Hiddy Jahan – took him to five games.

Those who had the honour of taking a game away from him were compounded with misery in the next games. There were challengers like Egypt’s Gamal Awad, who vowed to draw curtains on Jahangir’s supremacy. They were quickly forced into submission.

During the Patrick International Festival final at Chichester in 1983, the Egyptian pushed himself to the limit in a marathon that lasted two hours and 46 minutes, the longest ever match. Jahangir was equal to the challenge and won 3-1.

As he scorched his way to sporting immortality, Jahangir left a trail of over 500 successive victories behind him. Week after week, he put his body on the line and came through unscathed.

Psychologically, his opponents had already lost the match before it even began. Knowing that winning against Jahangir was highly unachievable, their aim was to lose respectably. If they met Jahangir in the early stages of a tournament, they knew that they would be on their way home the next day.

However, as his legend increased and expectations rose, Jahangir finally showed that even he is human and faced defeat on November 11, 1986. The Palais des Sports in the French city of Toulouse, perhaps saw the greatest winning streak in sporting history come to an abrupt end. In the UAP World Open final, Jahangir lost to New Zealand’s Ross Norman with the score of 9-5, 9-7, 7-9 and 9-1.

Norman may not have had the records that Jahangir has but he will certainly be remembered for falling the giant.

By the time his career ended, Jahangir had a jaw-dropping 10 successive British Opens, six World Opens, 13 Pakistan Opens and he rounded all this off by leading Pakistan to a historic team triumph in the World Team Championship in 1993.

Words do not do justice to Jahangir’s heroics and all that one can do is salute ‘The Conqueror’.

For the complete Hall of Fame series, log on to www.tribune.com.pk/halloffame/ (http://www.tribune.com.pk/halloffame/)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Gup Shup
    Apr 23, 2014 - 6:23AM

    A conqueror indeed and pride for Pakistanis.
    (By the way his DOB is 1963, and not 1953.
    Regards.

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  • Shafaq
    Apr 23, 2014 - 9:10AM

    He is and will remain Proud for Pakistan.

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  • Saif
    Apr 23, 2014 - 9:34AM

    The legacy and perfection of our grand sporting history, a man unmatched skills and athletic spirit without missing games because of injuries. Remember just the winning news at 9 pm khabarnama on PTV for long many years. I thought it was the game of that Khans family only and non was able to learn those tricks. A player to be honoured and rememberd as our national pride and hero. May he live long

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  • baloch Southall
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:58PM

    He was a titan of squash. I met him once in England and you can see the man was apart from the crowd. He had immense stamina and great integrity and a grinding work ethic.
    He had real pashtun values coupled with a great upbringing by his father roshan khan.
    I wish we get more like him in the squash scenario of Pakistan.

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  • Syed
    Apr 23, 2014 - 5:54PM

    He indeed was among the all time great sportsperson among all sports, and fittest person in his time. It is because of that it is little disappointing to see him now with extra weight, he should lead and motivate the nation to take care of their fitness regardless of the age and regardless of profession and line of work.

    Above all he inspite of his brilliance and achievements he is very humble and polite.

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  • Awais
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:05PM

    He was my generations hero and specially for us kids who could enjoy playing squash as well. In my time the split was Jahangir and Jansher khan fans…i was always in Kahangir’s camp. A true legend.

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  • squashing george
    Apr 24, 2014 - 11:30AM

    the greatest sportsman that ever lived.

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  • Crazy Canuck
    Apr 24, 2014 - 10:47PM

    Refreshing to read an ode in the honor of one of the greatest athletes to have ever roamed this good earth.

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  • Proud to be Muslim
    Apr 25, 2014 - 10:00AM

    The true conqueror as mentioned by the author. The disappointing thing is that, there was not much glamour and media coverage at that time so we haven’t seen him playing much. As mentioned earlier in a comment, only a glimpse of news around 9:30 PM on PTV’s 9:00 PM Khabarnama.

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  • Palmer Page
    Apr 25, 2014 - 5:08PM

    Jahangir, a great player who has become a great world leader as well. He was the head of the World Squash Federation. I would like to add for historical accuracy that Tom Page also went 5 games with him. It was in the North American game which Jahangir also played.

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