Azam Khan died on Saturday, March 28, in a London hospital from the Coronavirus COVID-19. He was ninety-five.
Khan won the U.S. Open in 1962 and was considered one of the greatest players in history. Born and raised in Peshawar in what was then India, Khan only started playing squash competitively in 1952, at age twenty-six, when his older brother Hashim Khan suggested he pick up the game. Azam, then a tennis professional and coach, was perhaps the fastest learner in history.
In a meteoric rise never seen before or since, Azam flew to London eight months after starting squash. In his first squash tournament ever, he reached the finals of the 1953 British Professionals, losing to Hashim. A week later, he qualified into the British Open and reached the semis (losing to his brother in five games). A superb volleyer, Azam played in ten British Opens in total: he won four and the six times he didn’t win he deferentially lost to Hashim, three times in the finals and three times in the semis. After he sustained an Achilles injury in late 1962, Azam retired from competitive play. He owned and ran New Grampians Squash Club in Shepherd’s Bush, London from the late 1950s until it closed in 2013.