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G.O.A.T: The Contenders 1960-1979 - Part Five

Over the coming weeks, we’re giving you the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we take a look at the achievements and legacies of some of the most recognisable names ever to take to a squash court.

Last week we looked at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts before 1960 in part one of our public vote.

We’ve now moved on to cover the era spanning between 1960-1979 and will highlight the achievements of several different players to have competed during that era before we ask you to determine the top players in a public vote at the end of the week.

You can read further information about some of the other contenders in this era below:

Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt, Heather McKay & Sue King.

Qamar Zaman, Abdelfattah AbouTaleb, Fran Marshall & Barbara Wall.

Gogi Alauddin, Mohibullah Khan, Anna Craven-Smith & Marcia Roche.

Cam Namcarrow, Nasrullah Khan, Sue Cogswell, Sheila Macintosh.

Hiddy Jahan
Nationality: Pakistani/English
British Open Title Wins: 0
British Open Final Defeats: 1

Pakistani legend Hiddy Jahan came back from a near-fatal accident to reach a British Open final and establish himself as one of the finest players of his generation.

Aged 17, Jahan had been selected for Pakistan’s first World Team Championships tournament and was travelling by train to Karachi for the final training camp when he leaned too far out of the carriage door and struck his head against a signal post while the train was in transit.

Jahan was extremely lucky to survive but fought back to full fitness to become a leading figure in the sport and was ranked inside the world’s top six between 1970-1986.

Due to a perceived lack of support from the Pakistan Squash Federation, Jahan chose to go on a tour of South Africa during the apartheid era and was subsequently banned by the federation, while his passport was impounded.

Jahan responded by moving to England with his British wife in 1978 and represented the nation at the 1983 Men’s World Team Championships, a year after he had lost to Jahangir Khan in his first and only British Open final.

That defeat was particularly pertinent given that Jahan was a close friend of Jahangir’s older brother, Torsam, and the older Pakistani player had a huge impact on Jahangir’s career, acting as a mentor and training partner for the eventual six-time World Champion.

Azam Khan
Nationality: Pakistani/English
British Open Title Wins: 4
British Open Final Defeats: 3

Azam Khan was an influential member of the ‘Khan Dynasty’ that dominated the sport throughout four different decades, lifting four British Open titles to pick up where his older brother, Hashim, left off.

A tennis coach at the Pakistan Air Force officers’ club, Azam was introduced to squash by Hashim at the age of 26, shortly after the older sibling had won his second British open crown, and he proved to be a natural.

His level of ability increased so much that he took on Hashim in the final of the 1954 British Open final, which went all the way to five games before Hashim finally ground out the win in the decider.

Azam also fell to his brother in the finals of the 1955 and 1958 tournaments. Hashim’s withdrawal from the following year’s event gave Azam a platform to make another run at the title and he made no mistake, beating his nephew, Mo Khan, to life the famous trophy for the first time.

A win over Hashim in the semi-finals of the 1960 tournament helped to propel Azam to a second successive British Open crown, beating second cousin Roshan Khan – the father of the great Jahangir – in the decider in just 19 minutes and dropping just a single point in the process.

Two more British Open titles would follow in as many years, while he also added a US Open trophy to his collection. However, an achilles tendon injury in 1962 and the tragic death of his 14-year-old son saw Azam retire from competitive squash.

Aside from an appearance at the National Championships and the Pakistan Open the following year – both of which he won, beating Roshan Khan in the final – Azam settled in the United Kingdom and took over the running of the New Grampians Squash Club in London.

Margaret Varner
Nationality: United States
US Nationals Title Wins: 4

A four-time US Nationals winner, Margaret Varner was one of the most versatile sportspeople of her era and also won two singles titles at the All-England Championships, which was the most prestigious Badminton tournament at the time.

Varner spent the majority of her career as a badminton player, but before that ended she began to make waves in the squash world, reaching the finals of the US Championships in 1959.

She also represented the US against Great Britain in the Wolfe-Noel Cup and at the Howe Cup in Philadelphia for five straight years. Varner was inducted into the US Squash Hall of Fame in 2000.

In addition to successful careers in squash and badminton, Varner also tried her hand at tennis and reached the final of the Wimbledon Women’s Doubles in 1958, teaming up with Margaret Osborne duPont who later became her lift partner after her husband passed away.

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