Jahangir & Hunt’s BO record: When a ninth victory means more than a tenth…

A lovely in-depth interview where JK explains how he learned from losing, and how 9 is even better than 10….

“The British Open was always my favourite tournament,” says Jahangir Khan.

“It was ‘the’ competition, the one with all the history and tradition behind it and of course my father Roshan had won the tournament in 1957, as well as my uncles, so it was a tournament I was brought up with, had great respect for and strong family links to, and right from the start of my career it was just the one to win for me.

“To win it for the first time 25 years after my father won it was just an unbelievable feeling.”

You win, or you learn…

Eleven British Open Finals. Yes Sir. That how many finals Living Legend Jahangir Khan has played, against Hiddy Jahan, Gamal Awad, Qamar Zaman, Ross Norman, Chris Dittmar, Rodney Martin, Jansher Khan but maybe most importantly, against Geoff Hunt.

That was his first BO final, and the only one he lost. And that defeat was, according to JK, the key to his illustrious career.

“Out of my 11 British Open finals, the only final I lost was to Geoff Hunt. That was in the ’81 final, when Geoff set his record of eight wins, and it was probably the single match in which I learned the most in my whole career.

“I was still young at the time, around 17 years-old and of course Geoff was at the other end of his career. He was just so strong mentally and physically and had a vast level of experience to draw upon.

“I went into that final having beaten Geoff a couple of times and in fact I’d beaten him the week before, if memory serves, at Chichester and I was confident in my belief that this could be my moment.

“But the one thing you knew when you went on court with Geoff Hunt was that he would give you nothing and that a lot of the time you could expect to be on court for two hours if you were going to get the better of him.

“I don’t know whether it was because I’d beaten him at Chichester in five games so near to the ’81 final, maybe that created a greater expectancy within me or not, but I definitely made mistakes in that final that I shouldn’t have and Geoff made a real solid start to get two games up and that meant it was very tough to haul him back.

“The other thing when I played Geoff was that we had similar styles and it was extremely hard to find a weakness against him. Even at 34, he was just so strong, and he really wanted that record eighth to beat my uncle Hashim’s (Khan) record, and that just made him ridiculously hard to defeat in that final, he would not be denied!

After losing that first final in 1981, Jahangir returned and claimed seven consecutive titles from 1982 to 1988, putting Hunt’s record within his reach.

Beating Hunt’s record

“Eight and nine years later (1989 and 1990), when I was playing Rodney in these finals trying to equal and then break Geoff’s run, that loss in 1981 against Geoff meant I knew just what I needed to produce to achieve these records, but also how much it mattered.

“In ’89 I faced Rodney hoping to draw level with the record of eight wins. That ’89 final with Rodney was the toughest of our three finals in the British Open, it went five games and I had to come back out and win the fifth after losing the fourth 9-0.

“I think that really stood me in good stead when Rodney and I met in 1990, this time I was trying to break Geoff’s record in our third BO final in a row! That year, there was probably more pressure than in ’89…

Jahangir’s 11 BO Finals

“Without doubt to capture my ninth British Open and go one better than Geoff Hunt, whom I had the utmost respect for, was just an unbelievable moment and probably, even although I came back the next year and won a 10th British, the greatest single moment of my career.

“It is the memory above all I will never forget from a great tournament that gave me so many happy memories.”

Interview by R.J Mitchell for PSA