Dubai: Former world No.7 squash player and UAE resident Abbas Khan has joined in the condolences at the passing away of a true legend in Azam Khan.
Abbas Khan, who has been living in the UAE for more than three decades, is currently with his family in the UK since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. “Azam Khan was indeed one of the greatest players we have known in the world of squash. I personally feel that he could have won many more titles and much more fame, if he wanted to. But his character was such that he always wanted his older brother [Hashim] to be in the limelight,” Abbas Khan told Gulf News from his London home.
“Even though I knew him closely along with my cousins Jansher and Jehangir, I used to keep my distance out of respect for him. But he loved being around us youngsters whenever we met,” he recalled.
In his book, ‘Murder in Squash’, six-time British Open champion Jonah Barrington relates how he could score just one point in three games in a pre-British Open practice match against Azam Khan in 1967. The next day too, he was able to win just one point as Azam went on to win the first of his six British Open titles at the age of 48 – five years after leaving professional squash.
“Such was the greatness of this man. He was equally good off the court. I have kept in touch with his son and my good friend [Wasal], who is also living in the UK. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Khan dynasty during this sad moment of losing one of the greatest squash players,” Abbas said.
“I have been a regular visitor to his New Grampians Squash Club in Shepherds Bush, West London, and he was there all the time. This is how much he loved the sport,” he recalled.
Playing as a contemporary to his cousins Jehangir and Jansher, Abbas’ most distinguished success on court came in the form of the 1977 French Open followed by the 1978 Monaco Open. In 1980, he played in an invitational in Dubai after which he took over as coach with Dubai Police, where he went on to guide Shaikh Ahmad Hasher Al Maktoum – the UAE’s lone Olympic gold medallist – to multiple UAE National titles.
Born at Nawakille, a small village outside Peshawar, which is known for producing squash world champions like the famous lineage of the other Khans, Azam Khan died at London’s Ealing Hospital.