Recently while watching Dawn News, I saw a slide showing brief overivew of one of the greatest legend of Pakistani Squash, Hashim Khan. The last line of the slide read; ‘He is currently living in Colorado.’ My curiosity moved me to google his name and find out more about his whereabouts.
To my utmost amazement, I ran into a website which mentioned that two Americans with the name of Josh Easdon and Beth Raisin have been working on a documentary on Hashim Khan. The project is called “Keep Eye on Ball – The Hashim Khan Story”. The movie has recenlty been released and its local screenings have been going on in the US.
But before discussing the film, I’d like to share excerpts from an article about Hashim Khan which was published in the Squash Magazine in 2004 and written by James Zug:
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
At another instance the article reads:
A fair amount of Hashim’s fame came from his game. On the court, he was genius. He had such blinding speed that no ball was truly out of reach. He was unconscionably fit, after his years of “Hashim v. Hashim” matches. Wind wrote that after three games in the finals of the 1954 US Open, Henri Salaun, a notoriously fit player, “could barely drag himself to and through the door leading from the court, whereas Hashim, for all his years [he was almost twice Salaun’s age] wasn’t even breathing hard.” He beat people with embarrassing ease. In the finals of the 1951 British Open, he toyed with the great stylist Mahmoud El Karim, 9-0, 9-0 in the last two games. In 1952, a cocky Australian went up 7-0 in the first game and began showboating; Hashim hit nine straight nicks.
His record is silly sick. He won seven British Opens, the last at age 44; three US Opens, the last at age 49; three Canadian Opens, an Australian Open, eight Scottish Opens, five British Professionals, and three US Professionals. Just imagine the totals if he had been 20 when he arrived in London. Just imagine what no one but the unwitting, gin-soaked members of the Peshawar Club saw: Hashim Khan in his prime.
Ralph Deeds on hubpages.com wrote another interesting article about this project titled “Hashim Khan, the Greatest Squash Player of All Time”. An excerpt from it goes like this:
Tonight I had the pleasure of watching a special showing of “Keep Eye on Ball: The Hashim Khan Story” about the greatest squash champion of all time. The showing was at the Roeper School in Birmingham, Michigan. The movie’s producer, Beth Rasin, told the audience about the six-year process of making the movie which was directed by Josh Easdon. The movie tells the amazing story about how a little Pashtun boy, born in 1916 or thereabouts, growing up in in an isolated village near Peshawar, British colonial India, now Pakistan, began playing squash on a British army base where his father worked and ended up becoming the greatest squash player in the history of the sport. Today, at 93 he continues to play and teach squash in Denver.
Here is an excerpt from the brochure distributed at the showing of the movie in Birmingham:
‘Keep Eye on Ball: the Hashim Khan Story’ is an historic film which brings to the screen for the very first time Hashim’s story along with the history of squash and an intimate glimpse of the history of Pakistan and the Pashtun tribe, what it means to be a Muslim and the cultural juxtapositions of a Pakistani-American family….Rarely there come into our midst extraordinary athletes whose talents take them beyond the boundaries of their sport. Icons like Pele and Muhammad Ali…and Hashim Khan. An extraordinary champion who is now in his nineties, Hashims passion for squash has taken him on an eight decade journey crossing economic, geographic and generational bourndaries and transcending social, cultural and religious biases.
Now let us take a look at a clip from the movie.
The most ironic thing is that the film has been released in September of this year but to date, neither our newspaper nor our media outlets have covered this news item. Infact there have been a number of screenings that have occurred in US in New York, Connecticut and Virginia but it seems that the local Pakistani newspapers failed to even report in a single line item. This shows our apathy towards our heroes.
From this forum, I suggest that we should sponsor local screenings of this movie across the US and also around our own country to appreciate the contribution of Hashim Khan to the world squash.
Few people would know that Hashim Khan was probably the only player who was not only honored by Pakistan but also by the US. In Karachi, there is PAF Hashim Khan Squash Complex, in Denver his name is in the Denver Athletic Club’s hall of fame on his contribution to promotion of Squash in the US. Infact, there is yearly Hashim Khan Open Women’s Double Squash Tournament which has been occurring successfully for almost 29 years in Denver Colorado.
Photo Credits: Josh Easdon