Azmat Khan (1951 - 2011)

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(News article)

Azmat Khan, a Swanton Township businessman and cricket enthusiast who was instrumental in founding the Greater Toledo Cricket Club, died Sunday in Toledo Hospital of a heart attack. He was 60.

The owner of Sunshine Corners Carryout, Mr. Khan became dizzy while playing in a cricket match earlier in the afternoon in Beatty Park near Auburn Avenue and South Cove Boulevard, said Dr. Taimur Butt, a physician in Saudia Arabia and close friend of Mr. Khan.

Dr. Butt, who worked with Mr. Khan to organize the cricket club several years ago and was in Toledo for the weekend, helped several others put Mr. Khan in the back seat of a car and then drove him to the hospital.

"He died playing the game that he had a great passion and love for," he said.

For many years Mr. Khan and his brother Khalif Khan owned and operated convenience stores in Toledo.

The brothers grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and immigrated in 1980 to the United States, settling initially in Houston, where they owned a construction business.

About 10 years later they arrived in Toledo, purchasing Dairy Mart convenience stores together. His brother said they sold the stores and Azmat bought Sunshine Corners on Waterville-Swanton Road.

Mr. Khan said his brother earned a degree in carpentry and construction from the Swedish Institute of Technology and worked in the construction of a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

He also said that his brother had been involved locally in cricket -- a game they both played as children in Pakistan, where it is the national pastime -- since moving to Toledo.

He said he was president of the Greater Toledo Cricket Club.

"Since 1989 he has been working to establish Toledo as a competitive cricket area, where teams from Toledo can compete with teams from around the country," he said. "He died doing what he did best."

Mr. Khan lived with his wife, Yasmeen, in a home behind the carryout. They were married in Houston shortly after he moved from Pakistan, his brother said.

The couple first met as children in their native country.

"She was like 2 years old when he gave her a plastic ring. They were just playing. At that time we had traditional arranged marriages. So my mother and father immediately said, 'Why don't we just keep her in mind [for marriage]?' He promised to marry her, and he did," he said.

Mr. Khan, Dr. Butt, John Joseph, and Muhammad Shoib were the four enthusiasts who started the Greater Toledo Cricket Club about three years ago. Mr. Shoib said the group began with six people -- about half of the 11 players needed for a team, and grew quickly to more than 40 members who compete on three teams in the Michigan Cricket Association and the Great Lakes Cricket Association.

The team has won two straight national championships in the category in which it competes.

Mr. Shoib said he and Mr. Khan, although separated in age by about 10 years, became close friends after meeting during a cricket match five years ago.

"He and I shared the same passion for the game," said Mr. Shoib. "He was a man of many traits. If he was among kids he would become a kid himself. Among adults he would be a grown-up. Everybody could connect to him. He was so amazing in that he could connect to everyone."

Dr. Butt said his friend had had a previous heart attack and doctors inserted a device into his heart.

He said Mr. Khan was cautioned not to play cricket but that he adopted a physical therapy regimen to help him recuperate.

"He did that for a couple of years after the surgery. He had been playing regularly during the summer and also indoors during the winter," he said.

The cricket match on Sunday was the first time in two years that the club founders had gathered.

"He said that because all four of us were together on the same ground it was a blessed day that we got together," he said.

Surviving are his wife, Yasmeen Khan, daughter, Nidha Halepota, son, Zain Khan, mother, Zubaida Begum, brothers, Habib, Khalif, Zafar, Nasr, and Arif, sisters, Meher Imtiaz and Kausar Zahir, and two grandsons.

Services will be at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township.

Arrangements are being handled by Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.
Published in Toledo Blade on Aug. 9, 2011
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