The greatest athlete for his age the world has ever seen

James Zug in Squash Magazine [July 2004]:

Khan Hashim 04 Hashim Khan, who I think can fairly be described as the greatest squash-racquets player of all time, made his American debut in the winter of 1954.

Hashim Khan, may his tribe increase, completely changed the course of events in the game of squash racquets.

The more I think about it, the more firmly convinced I am that the greatest athlete for his age the world has ever seen may well be Hashim Khan, the Pakistani squash player.

That was how Herbert Warren Wind led off his three epic articles on squash in the New Yorker, in 1973, 1978 and in 1985. Being the New Yorker, the articles were rigorously fact-checked, and all hyperbole was stricken with a red pen. These three sentences were true then and are true today.

Yet, Wind and the New Yorker got his birth date wrong. There is no birth certificate for Hashim Khan. Ned Bigelow, the founder of the United States Open and the man responsible for bringing Hashim to the US and thus revolutionizing our game, made a trip to Pakistan in the 1960s solely to dig up the elusive piece of paper. But the Northwest Frontier Province of the Raj four decades before independence did not focus on record-keeping, and after days of searching Bigelow declared that there was no extant proof of Hashim’s arrival in this world (most of Hashim’s children don’t know their birth date either). Hashim grew up thinking he was born in 1914. When he was first approached, in 1951, about coming to England to play in the British Open, he thought they would not let him play in the tournament if they knew he was 37. So he made himself 35, with 1916 as a birth date. A few years ago he changed it back to 1914. Many people believed he was born even earlier, in 1910 or 1912. Regardless, Hashim is now sticking to 1914, which makes the first of July 2004 his 90th birthday.

Many happy returns, indeed, for whenever he was born, Hashim can look back on a legacy greater than anyone else in the history of squash.

More here. Hashim Khan won the British Open seven times between 1951 and 1958, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest squash players of all time. He also won five British Professional Championship titles, three US Open titles, and three Canadian Open titles. Hashim Khan's son Sharif Khan later won the American Open between 1969 and 1981 an unbelievable 12 times, losing only once in 1975! It is good to note that in 2010 Hashim Khan is still healthy, and at age 96, still playing squash. Watch this video, Aps, and others: