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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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JAHANGIR PUTS SOMETHING BACK INTO SQUASH

Probably the greatest player, Jahangir was recently unanimously re elected as President of the World Squash Federation at the Annual General Meeting held in Mauritius.

 During his illustrious career, Jahangir won the British Open a record ten times ( will that ever be beaten ? ) and if that is not enough, he remained unbeaten for an incredible five years. Some achievement, some player !

 Always a humble winner, Jahangir is certainly a major part of the Khan dynasty having spent his childhood in the mountainous region of North West Pakistan where the crisp air was of great benefit for a healthy youngster. Abdullah Khan was employed at a British Army Officers club way back in the 1930’s and he was enchanted with this strange game played  in roofless courts with very high walls. The swift reactions, agility,

need for sparkling reflexes and the grace of a ballet dancer enthralled Abdullah who took to the game and then passed it on to his son, Hashim who revelled in the challenges  

and in a great career, won the British Open ( Wimbledon of squash ) no less than seven times, a record at the time.

 Jahangir won the World Open in 1981 ( aged just 17 years ! ) and remained unbeaten for five years until he succumbed in a minor match in 1986. This unbelieveable run lasted more than 800 matches and was evidence of a colossus in the world of squash. He trained for eight or nine hours a day starting with a 12km run followed by 20times 400 metre sprints with only 75 second breathers in between – all to equip him to handle the heavy physical demands of lengthy and tortuous rallies.

 Today the affable genius is directing matters at the World Squash Federation and he regards it as a privilege to work for the game of squash  - how fortunate we are that such a great man is putting a lot back into this great game.

 The world controlling body was formed in 1967 with just seven countries ( South Africa was a foundation member ) and would you believe it, the number of countries where squash is played has grown to 154, a remarkable growth of 147 countries or a percentage increase  of 2100 % in less than 40 years. As a measure let us look at some of the squash court populations – for example, Egypt is the largest in Africa with 3,600 courts followed by South Africa with 1,500. In Asia, Malaysia heads the list with 1,500 courts while Hong Kong has 700 and India 600 while Pakistan has 600. England has 8,700 courts with Germany on an incredible 6,000, Australia 3,600 and New Zealand 800. The United States has 3,300 and Canada 1,800.

 Well done, World Squash Federation                                                              Ian Dixon

  

 

A HEAVY PRICE TO PAY


Squash champions are not above the law and the rules apply to everybody on a squash court as evidenced by a recent complaint about the behaviour of David Palmer of Australia, world number 3 and three times winner of the British Open, who, it is alleged, became frustrated on court with a subsequent outburst during the world doubles championship in India.

 He was found guilty of breaching no less than five articles of the disciplinary code :

 

1                    Verbally abusing the referees and officials

2                    Showing dissent to the referee including foul and abusive language

3                    Abusing playing equipment

4                    Not complying with the spirit of the game

5                    Exhibiting unreasonable conduct which brought the game into disrepute

 

Quite a lengthy list ending with a hefty punishment which included a banning from all events run under the auspices of the World Squash Federation until January 2006.

In addition to forfeiting his prize money, the ban will include the 2005 world games in Germany, the men’s team championship in December in Islamabad and the 2006 world double in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Palmer did not appeal against the decision. 

Ian Dixon 

 

OLYMPIC GAMES   2012

 

This year the  I O C votes on the programme for the 2012 games and we all hope that squash will be included although there is strong competition with golf, karate, rugby sevens all being in contention for inclusion. The World Squash Federation Emeritus President, Suzie Simcock, has achieved many things and a key factor is the number of multi sport games where squash is included : 

                        All Africa Games

                        Asian Games

                        Central American Games

                        Commonwealth Games

                        East African Games

                        Maccabi Games

                        Pan American Games

                        South Asian Games

                        World Games

                        World Masters Games

 

And many others – this is an impressive record and is indicative of the effort being made on our behalf to spread the interest in squash as far as possible, a most commendable inclusion will be to the World Deaf Association where Jahangir is the Patron.                                                                                                   Ian Dixon

 

 

 

THE FIRST  CASE OF DRUGS IN SQUASH

 

 One of the first winners of the British Open was Don Butcher who won the title in 1931 and 1932 mainly because he was an innovative player who deviated from the conventional up and down the wall style of those days and made full use of the boasts, lobs, drops, reverse angles as well as cultivating the serve – these advantages put him way out in front of the pack and he showed the results. 

Somehow he became involved in a bizarre controversy where a doctor from the St John’s Wood club in London, where Butcher was coaching, was testing the effects of Benzedrine – Butcher was asked to take some before playing a match to measure the results. He did this, won the match but the damage was done and the London newspapers carried this sensational story with the result that Butcher was suspended from playing squash until the matter had been investigated.

His friend, the doctor, explained the position to the enquiry and Butcher was absolved from blame but he had earned the nick name of “ The Benzedrine Kid “ for quite some time – I wonder what would happen if any of our modern players took a sniff of such a mild substance. 

Ian Dixon

 

 

 

DEATH OF GAMAL AWAD

 

Jack in the Box, an athletic freak, entertainer, crowd pleaser, brilliant squash player, an acrobat , a human rubber ball – put all of these together and you have Gamal Awad, former Egyptian number 1 and World number 2 who passed away recently at the age of 49 years. Injury put an end to his flamboyant career in 1987 when he eventually succumbed to a massive heart attack when he was in Alexandria, Egypt.

As a boy, Gamal was spotted by Jonah Barrington in 1955 – genial Jonah gave the lad a racket and he was on his squash way. He had no trouble in winning most Egyptian titles and became the national champion in 1976 after which he won the British Amateur in 1977. Squash had, by now, progressed tremendously and Gamal became a very welcome entrant in major tournaments with his natural talent and enthusiasm, he trained exceptionally hard albeit unscientifically and in 1980 he defeated the great Geoff Hunt of Australia to get to the final of the British Open.

By this time Jahangir Khan was the world champion and he was the one player Gamal wanted to beat to make his way to be world number 1 which would assure him of a great future. His big moment arrived in 1983 at the Chichester Open where he was drawn to meet Jahangir – Gamal’s game plan was simply to retrieve absolutely every ball and this he did, diving around the court, bouncing like a rubber ball and recovering from seemingly impossible situations. The nerve racking rallies went on and on as the two gladiators locked horns and showed their amazing talents on the squash court.

And then, the first game was over after a marathon 1 hour and 11 minutes and a score of 10 – 9 to Gamal – the glory though was not to be and Jahangir won the next three games 

9 – 5,  9 – 7, and 9 – 2, the whole match had lasted an incredible 2 hours and 46 minutes, a world record that will stay for many years to come. Two weeks later Gamal met Jahangir in the British Open, was easily defeated and realized that he just did not carry enough guns for Jahangir.

Later he developed serious knee injuries from training with railway sleepers on his back and eventually he suffered a massive heart attack in Alexandria and so the “ human rubber ball “ passed on to higher honours.

Ian Dixon

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