Squash-i-Azam - A man who knew no politics
Written by SquashMagazine   

It's been a matter of debate over  over the years that how many British Open titles Azam Khan Could have won, had it not been for Nuakilli family politics

Many believe that, towards the end of the great man's run of victories, Azam was capable of beating Hashim. But he chose not to. On the other hand there are those who would that the young Mohibullah senior had been cap¬ble of winning the title in 1960 and 1961, but lost to Azam in five games on both occasions.

However, experts do not agree wiih these arguments, and feel that, had it not been for the ten¬don injury, Azam might well have gone on to bear Hashim's record of seven successive victories. The whole truth is unlikely to be revealed.

Azam lived in the shadow of his illustrious elder broiher for six years, before emerging to win four consecutive British Open titles between 1938 and 1961. Hashim rescued him from a relatively unimportant tennis coaching job, and made him play squash instead in December 1952. At first, he showed no signs of a future champion. "I was hopeless to begin with," he says, "but Hashim kept pushing me, and finally, I could stay on court longer and longer without  getting exhausted, and my strokes improved also,"

 

 

Early in 1953, Azam played his first genuine competitive match against England's fifty Wilson and lost in five games. Less than three months laser, he reached the semi-finals of the British Open where he was beaten in five games by Hashim, who defeated Wilson in the final.

For the next five years, Hashim stopped his younger brother from professing in the British Open., by beating him two more times in the semi-finals and thrice in the finals. Azam efforts were finally rewarded when he beat his nephew
Mohibuilah Senior to win the title. He reclaimed it in 1959 by beating Roshan Khan in ihe final, and notched up two other victories against Mohibuilah Senior in 1960 and 1962. Azam's career was tragically cut short in 1962 when a  badly damaged Achilles tendon forced him to abandon tournament play.

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Injury, circuit fatigue and burnout have been the professional's sportsmen's enemies. And, the demand from the sponsors and the management to play more is an added pressure on the players.


British Open final appearances


Wins (4)
Year     Opponent in final     Score in final
1959     Mo Khan     9-5, 9-0, 9-1
1960     Roshan Khan     9-1, 9-0, 9-0
1961     Mo Khan     6-9, 9-1, 9-4, 0-9, 9-2
1962     Mo Khan     9-6, 7-9, 10-8, 2-9, 9-4
Runner-ups (3)
Year     Opponent in final     Score in final
1954     Hashim Khan     6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 7-9, 9-5
1955     Hashim Khan     9-7, 7-9, 9-7, 5-9, 9-7
1958     Hashim Khan     9-7, 6-9, 9-6, 9-7

By Adil Ahmed

 

published in The Mag, 15-11,1996