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Hashim Khan, who learnt to play squash by taking the balls from British Military officers in Pakistan, died on Monday in Denver. His son Mohammad confirmed his death and he was believed to be 100. He began working as a ball bearing boy in the British Officers club at Peshawar when Pakistan was still under the British rule. His father worked as the head cook for the British military.
Khan used to play barefoot after the officers vacated the court and even didn’t take many lunches so that they would give him squash lessons. When he was 30, he became a national champion and made it to the squash open final of the British by defeating Abdul Bari of Bombay. In 1951 Khan’s supporters raised money so that he could go to the tournament like Bari did. It had become an issue of national pride by then as Pakistan had become independent.
Now, at the Open he was several years older compared to other first timers. This was Squash’s most awaited and celebrated event. Khan defeated a string of the best players the world has ever seen and came out with a very impressive debut. He became the Open champion when he defeated Mahmud Karim of Egypt who was a four time champion of the Open. After that Khan won the open for eight years. In 1956 Khan defeated his cousin Roshan but the next year, Roshan defeated Khan and took over the title.
In 1958, Khan defeated his younger brother Azam and after that many family members started participating and winning the tournament. There has been 41 British Open Tournaments played between 1951-1991 but it has always been one Khan family member defeating another Khan member in the Finals.
The Khan family won 23 tournament titles. Sam Khan, son of Hashim Khan says that his father was several years older than he said he was because his date of birth was not certain. He also said that his father was aa person who never got to know how good he was until he was given an opportunity.
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