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G.O.A.T. The Contenders Pre-1960s - Part 1

Over the next few weeks, we're giving you the chance to determine the greatest players in squash history as we chronicle the achievements and legacy of some of the most recognised names ever to take to a squash court.

This week we begin by looking at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts before 1960 in part one of our public vote.

Each day we'll highlight the feats of different players to have competed during the era before asking you to determine the top players of that era in a public vote at the end of the week.

F.D. Amr Bey
Nationality: Egyptian
British Open Title Wins: 6
British Open Final Defeats: 0

A six-time British Open Champion and six-time British Amateur Championship winner, Abdelfattah Amr – better known as F.D. Amr Bey – was the firstly truly dominant squash player in history and a man credited for creating the foundations upon which Egypt’s current domination of squash has been built upon.

Born in 1909, Bey moved to England in 1928 as an Egyptian diplomat and would later serve as Egypt’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom between 1945-1952.

Prior to moving to England, Bey had never before played the game of squash and was instead a regular polo and tennis player – even representing Egypt in the David Cup tennis tournament. But he was introduced to squash at the Queens Club shortly after moving and quickly established himself as the world’s finest player – comprehensively beating Don Butcher in the 1932 British Open final to become the first non-English winner of the event.

Bey would then hold the title unbroken until his retirement from the sport in 1938 – retiring without ever losing in the finals of either the British Open or British Amateur Championship, a feat only matched in history by Jonah Barrington.

Bey was noted for his physical approach to the game, earning the moniker as the first ‘professional amateur’ such was the emphasis he placed on physical preparation for competition, illustrated when Don Butcher, whom he beat in two British Open finals, said; “To give you some idea of his wonderful fitness and lasting power, I am the only player who has scored points against him in the fifth game of a serious match.”

Hashim Khan
Nationality: Pakistan
British Open Title Wins: 7
British Open Final Defeats: 1

Despite being just 5ft 4in tall, Hashim Khan’s influence on the game of squash is one of epic proportions.

Considered to be squash’s original Godfather, Khan was born in Peshawar in what is modern day Pakistan. Khan – whose exact date of birth remains a mystery – broke racial and class barriers during a pioneering career that saw him win the prestigious British Open a total of seven times, becoming the first Pakistani champion in tournament history and launching the Khan dynasty that would dominate squash throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Khan's introduction to the game came through his father who was a steward at the British Officers Squash Club in Peshawar. When the young Hashim was not gathering balls hit over the roofless court walls, he would watch game after game before practicing barefoot once the officers had left.

He became a squash coach in 1942 and in 1944, won the All-of-India Championship and then, in 1951 following the creation of the new state of Pakistan and aged at least 36 – if not up to seven years older – he travelled to England to compete at the British Open.

In his maiden appearance at the sport’s biggest event, and wearing shoes on court for the first time, he dispatched four-time champion Mahmoud Khan 3-0 in the final – losing just five points in total to the man believed to be the world’s best player.

Khan then won six straight finals, beating his cousin Roshan in the 1956 final. Hashim lost the 1957 final, to Roshan, but came back to win the title for a seventh, and final, time in 1957 – beating his younger brother Azam in the decider.

He then moved to Detroit to coach squash at the Uptown Athletic Club and then, a decade later, became pro at the Denver Athletic Club. Khan helped make both well-known venues outside of the Ivy League squash circuit whilst he continued to compete in exhibition events all over the world.
He continued to play regularly up until his 90s, passing away aged at least 100 in 2014.

Nancy Cave
Nationality: English
British Open Title Wins: 3
British Open Final Defeats: 6

The middle of three squash playing sisters alongside elder sister Margaret and younger sister Joyce, Nancy Cave was a three-time British Open Champion and six-time British Open Championship runner-up – a record number that still stands to this day.

After losing the first ever British Open championship to her younger sister Joyce in 1922, Nancy tasted defeat again the following year as she lost the 1923 final to Silvia Huntsman.

But in 1924 she etched her name onto the trophy, defeating Joyce in the title decider.

Nancy would finish as runner-up for the next three years, losing to Joyce in 1925 and then to Cecily Fenwick in both 1928 and 1927. She captured two consecutive British Open crowns in 1929 and 1930, defeating Joyce and Fenwick, respectively.

Joyce Cave
Nationality: English
British Open Title Wins: 3
British Open Final Defeats: 3

The first ever winner of the women’s British Open Squash Championship, Joyce Cave triumphed in 1922 to etch her name into the sport’s history books – beating her two elder sisters Margaret Cave in the semi-finals and Nancy Cave in the final.

After failing to reach the final in 1923, she then lost the 1924 event to her sister Nancy, before regaining the title in 1925 with revenge over her sister.

She went on to win the title for a third time in 1928, beating Cecily Fenwick, and made her sixth and last appearance in the tournament final in 1932 – ten years after winning the inaugural event. In that event she lost out to Susan Noel in what would be the last time a Cave sister appeared in the latter stages of the prestigious British Open.

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