Jahangir Khan, HI (Urdu: جهانگير خان; born 10 December 1963 in Karachi, Pakistan) sometimes spelled “Jehangir Khan”, is a former World No. 1 professional squash player from Pakistan, who is considered to be the greatest player in the history of squash. Jahangir Khan is originally from Neway Kelay Payan, Peshawar. During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times. From 1981 to 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively, the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports as recorded by Guinness World Records. He retired as a player in 1993, and has served as President of the World Squash Federation from 2002 to 2008, when he became Emeritus President.
Jahangir was coached initially by his father, Roshan, the 1957 British Open champion, then by his late brother Torsam. After his brother’s sudden death he was coached by his cousin Rehmat Khan, who guided Jahangir through most of his career. Jahangir was physically very weak as a child. Though the doctors had advised him not to take part in any sort of physical activity, after undergoing a couple of hernia operations his father let him play and try out their family game.
In 1979, the Pakistan selectors decided not to select Jahangir to play in the world championships in Australia, judging him too weak from a recent illness. Jahangir decided instead to enter the World Amateur Individual Championship and, at the age of 15, became the youngest-ever winner of that event.
In November 1979, Jahangir’s older brother Torsam, who had been one of the leading international squash players in the 1970s, died suddenly of a heart attack during a tournament match in Australia. Torsam’s death profoundly affected Jahangir. He considered quitting the game, but decided to pursue a career in the sport as a tribute to his brother.
Five-year unbeaten run:
In 1981, when he was 17, Jahangir became the youngest winner of the World Open, beating Australia’s Geoff Hunt (the game’s dominant player in the late-1970s) in the final. That tournament marked the start of an unbeaten run which lasted for five years and 555 matches. The hallmark of his play was his incredible fitness and stamina, which Rehmat Khan helped him build up through a punishing training and conditioning regime. Jahangir was quite simply the fittest player in the game, and would wear his opponents down through long rallies played at a furious pace.
In 1982, Jahangir astonished everyone by winning the International Squash Players Association Championship without losing a single game.
The unbeaten run finally came to end in the final of the World Open in 1986 in Toulouse, France, when Jahangir lost to New Zealand’s Ross Norman. Norman had been in pursuit of Jahangir’s unbeaten streak, being beaten time and time again. “One day Jahangir will be slightly off his game and I will get him”, he vowed for five years.
Speaking about his unbeaten streak, Jahangir said: “It wasn’t my plan to create such a record. All I did was put in the effort to win every match I played and it went on for weeks, months and years until my defeat to Ross Norman in Toulouse in 1986.”
“The pressure began to mount as I kept winning every time and people were anxious to see if I could be beaten. In that World Open final, Ross got me. It was exactly five years and eight months. I was unbeaten for another nine months after that defeat.”