As Per Record the city had its first super star in Mir Khasim Ali who represented India in TT for close to a decade, and such was his popularity that even Sunil Gavaskar failed to enter a packed stadium where the young sensation was playing. This is much before the Sanias and the Sainas became the poster girls of Hyderabad.
His has achieved three World Championships, three Asian Championships and two Commonwealth Championships, Ali ,65, who now lives a quiet life in city where a decade ago he once ruled the roost fondly remembers the ‘Golden Days’ when sports stars did not earn money but a lot of “respect”.
Khasim in his freewheeling chat with PTI at his Bashirbagh residence in the city said “Those were different days. We never played for money. It was just about honors. I remember Sunil Gavaskar once told me that he could not enter a stadium in Mumbai where I was playing because it was packed. Later of course, he was always welcomed to sit in the front row when he became a Test star”.
Khasim was horned by An Arjuna Awardee in 1969 the same year he was the senior national champion for a second time around. For his good smart look He was rated as the most handsome sportsperson by a national sports magazine ahead of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. Compliment the graceful man about his looks even now and Khasim blushes.
Khasim remembers his fame and said “It was embarrassing. Girls would ask for autographs on their hands. Sometimes I was with my wife and the female attention would just get too much. But I enjoyed the sports part. I travelled the world, played with the best and it was fun”.
His great achievement was Being Runner-up in the first Commonwealth Championships in Singapore in 1971 was the high point of his career, He has shocked many top players and got a hero’s welcome back home. Only current star AchantaSharath Kamal has bettered the feat by winning the men’s singles gold in the 16th Commonwealth table tennis championship held at Kuala Lumpur in 2004.