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G.O.A.T #14: Mahmoud Karim & Nancy Cave

Over the last month, we have given squash fans the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we looked over the achievements and legacies of some of the most recognisable names ever to take to a squash court.

The votes are now in and we will be announcing the results in descending order to when we reveal the official men’s and women’s GOAT.

20th PlaceDon Butcher & Sheila Macintosh
19th PlaceRoshan Khan & Sue Cogswell
18th PlaceAzam Khan & Anna Craven-Smith
17th PlaceAbdelfattah AbouTaleb & Sue King
16th PlaceAhmed Barada & Joyce Cave
15th PlaceF.D. Amr Bey & Silvia Huntsman

Mahmoud Karim
Nationality: Egyptian
British Open Title Wins: 4
British Open Finals: 6

Mahmoud Karim won four straight British Open titles from 1947-50 to write his name into the squash history books.

He was seen as a player of unique talent, who brought completely new qualities to the game.

Karim first played golf and tennis at the Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo before discovering squash at the age of 15. He enjoyed it so much that he came to dedicate all of his time to the sport.

In 1946 he started a four-year reign of the British Open only to be stopped when Hashim Khan made his historic debut in 1950. The squash world was stunned when Karim was beaten 9-5, 9-0, 9-0.

In 1947, Karim captured the British Open title for the first time. The 1947 final was the last occasion on which the British Open was decided in a best of three format between the two finalists. Karim beat Jim Dear 9-4, 9-1, 9-3 in the first match and 5-9, 7-9, 9-8, 9-7, 9-4 in the second match.

In 1948 Karim again faced Dear in the British Open final, this time in a single match to determine the champion which Karim won 9-5, 9-3, 5-9, 1-9, 10-8. Karim then beat Brian Philips in the 1949 final 9-4, 9-2, 9-10, 9-4. In 1950, Karim beat Abdul Bari of India in the final 9-4, 9-2, 9-7.

Karim was also runner-up at the British Open in 1951 and 1952 losing in the final on both occasions to Pakistan’s Hashim Khan.

He never competed in the Open again and back in Cairo he felt he could not support his large family – he had six sons and two daughters – and so moved to Montreal as the squash pro at the Montreal Athletic Association, an exclusive club with American courts.

When he was 72 he wanted to return to Cairo – it was an emotional homecoming and they made him director of squash at the Gezira club.

Roy McElvie, a contemporary, once said: “Karim was a joy. If I had to play the eternal match, in heaven or hell, I would play Karim. Just for the fun.”

Nancy Cave
Nationality: England
British Open Title Wins: 3
British Open Finals: 9

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.

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