Regardless of the sport you choose, there are always a few stand out players with names that come up time and again in the history books. Squash is no exception, so let’s take a look at some of the giants of the game in years gone by.
Who Was The Best Squash Player Ever?
While it’s a very subjective question, one of the most common names regarded as the best ever squash player is Jahangir Khan. Born in December 1963, Khan won the World Open title on six occasions (1981-5 and 1988), and the British Open ten times in consecutive years from 1982 to 1991.
Ten Giants Of Squash History
Every sport is bigger than one name, so let’s look at Jahangir Khan and nine other greats in more detail. Between them, they make up a large part of the sport’s history, especially in terms of title winning success in major tournaments.
Canadian player Jonathon Power has ranked number one in the world for five distinct period. First reaching the top spot in May 1999, he tussled for the top spot with Peter Nicol over a period of just over two years. Eventually returning to the top of the rankings four and a half years later in early 2006.
In addition, Power won the World Open in 1998 and the British Open in 1999, defeating rival Peter Nicol in both tournaments.
Hailing from Pakistan, Qamar Zaman was a big name in squash from the 1970s. Winning the 1975 British Open, Zaman help the world number one spot for eleven months between February 1975 and January 1976, and five years later returned to the coveted number one ranking between January 1981 and December of the same year.
Born in Cornwall during the second world war, Jonah Barrington has been referred to as Mr Squash, and won the British Open in 1967 at the age of 26, and repeated his triumph in five out of the next six years, missing out only in 1969. Barrington is considered by many to be an Irish player despite his Cornish roots, but more often than not described as an Irish/English player.
Our second featured Pakistani player is Hashim Khan, who lived to a hundred years old when he passed away in 2014. Khan was particularly remembered for his sportsmanship manner, and won the British Open title seven times in the 1950s.
Father to a total of 12 children, Hashim Khan was the father of Sharif Khan who had a successful career in the American hardball squash variant in the 1970s. Six of his other sons also played the North American sport, but Sharif was the most successful and decorated with titles.
Scottish player Peter Nicol won a World Open in 1999 after finishing as runner up in the previous two years. He also won two British Open titles, beating Jansher Khan in the 1998 final and John White in 2002.
Nicol also participated in the Commonweatlh games in 1998, 2002 and 2006, with wins in 1998 and 2006 singles, and doubles in 2002 and 2006 with playing partner Lee Beachill.
Geoff Hunt’s legacy is considerable, having won four world opens and eight British Opens. What’s remarkable about the Australian players list of titles is the time they span across, the first in 1969 and last in 1981.
After retiring as a player, Hunt spent a significant number of years in coaching roles, including eighteen years as the head coach in Australia’s Institute of Sport until 2003.
In much more recent times, Ramy Ashour is a notable Egyptian squash player. Winning the World Open in 2008, 2012 and 2014, Ashour also claimed a British Open victory in 2013, on top of a number of other titles including the Hong Kong Open on three occasions.
Mohamed El Shorbagy
The current reigning world number one at the time of writing (August 2021), Mohamed El Shorbagy is an impressive talent, signified by several spells at the top of the world rankings since reaching the peak for the first time in November 2014.
After falling short as runner up in the 2012 and 2014 World Opens in Doha, Shorbagy finally claimed the title in Manchester in 2017. With the biggest prize added to his trophy cabinet, Shorbagy has also got an impressive range of titles from around the world including three British Opens, three Hong Kong Opens, three US Opens and three Qatar Classics.
Returning to the impressive stars of the history books, Jansher Khan of Pakistan won an incredible eight World Opens between 1987 and 1996, in addition to appearances in the World Series in a similar set of years winning six times.
With such an impressive collection of titles, it’s little surprise that Jansher Khan is held in such high regard, nor that he held the World number one ranking on and off for a decade between January 1988 and January 1998.
Finally we return to Jahangir Khan, the all time great in the world of squash.
Khan’s legacy in sport is a comprehensive collection of titles for the Pakistani player, in addition to a long spell at world number one.
Kahn’s story is tinged with tragedy, with his brother Torsam coaching him before passing away. Torsam suffered a heart attack on court playing a competitive squash match in Australia in 1979. It’s said that Jahangir considered giving up the game but ultimately decided that continuing would be a better tribute to his brother’s life.
Kahn went on to win six World Open titles in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1988. He held the world ranking number one spot between January 1982 and December 1987, before intermittently winning back the top spot intermittently with Jansher Khan until April 1992.
Who Is The Most Famous Female Squash Player Of All Time
The women’s game has come a long way in terms of popularity in recent years, and in a future update we’ll be looking in a similar way at female players.
That’s not to say that history hasn’t produced some very impressive players, with Australian Heather Pamela McKay being one of the most worthy of being called the best of all time.
Born in 1941, McKay won every British Open final between 1962 and 1977 inclusive, a whopping sixteen titles in all, with the first four being played under her maiden name of Heather Blundell. McKay also added the 1976 and 1970 World Open titles to her collection, and in 1985 went on to coach the Squash Division of the Australian Institute of Sport.
Incredibly squash wasn’t the only sport that McKay turned her hand to, also being a successful hockey and racquetball player.
Who Has Won The Most Recognised Squash Titles?
Returning to the men’s game, Jansher Khan won 99 titles across the main tournaments. Jahangir Khan ranks second by this metric with 61. Mike Corren (who isn’t covered above) with 50 titles is in third.
The Squashy Summary
As we said at the very start, any list of top names in sport is going to be subjective. This selection certainly comprises some of the best names in squash over the years. While few will argue against Jahangir Khan’s placement at the top of the sport, there will inevitably be many who debate the order and inclusion of other players.