The flurry of attention around Hashim Khan’s death has begun to dissipate. It was a very busy moment after he died in late August. I talked to a half dozen magazines and newspapers about obituaries they were writing. I appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered with Robert Siegel and I wrote a piece for the Atlantic Monthly’s website.
Siegel said that Hashim was believed to be 104 years old when he died. No one knows for sure. I said he was 100; the IRS believed he was 98.
Ned Bigelow, the founder of the U.S. Open, went to Pakistan in 1953; Rex Bellamy, the Times of London journalist, went in 1976; Dicky Rutnagur, Hashim’s official biographer, went in the 1980s; and Josh Easdon and Beth Rasin went just a half dozen years ago. None of them were able to dig up a birth certificate in Peshawar.
Hashim said in his own 1967 book that he was born in 1916, but he later told Rutnagur and he told me that he had changed his birthday by two years when he went to the UK for the Scottish and British Opens and the British Professionals in 1951 because he worried that officials wouldn’t let a thirty-seven year-old enter their tournaments. Some think he was born even earlier than 1914, but the IRS notwithstanding, it is pretty clear that 1914 is the best possible first of July for Hashim’s birthday.