Ibrahim Hegazi was not my immediate boss, but he served as one, as well as being a big brother, teacher and mentor. His guidance and tutoring shaped me into who I am today.
Hegazi, a veteran journalist and sports critic, who passed away in hospital on Monday 3 January at 77 after an illness spanning months, was buried after funeral prayers that included crowds of mourners and sports and media celebrities who visited Al-Farouq Mosque in Maadi to bid farewell to an exceptional person, personally and professionally.
In tribute to Hegazi, members of the senate stood for a minute’s silence at the beginning of Monday’s plenary session for their colleague. “When I receive the interior minister’s letter announcing the death of the deceased, I will announce the vacancy of his seat in the Senate,” Speaker of the House Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek said.
Hegazi was also the founder and editor-of-chief of the first Egyptian sports magazine Al-Ahram El-Riyadi.
The media icon, who inspired generations of junior reporters, graduated from the High Institute of Physical Education in 1967. In 1975, Hegazi joined the Al-Ahram Establishment’s sports department. In 1990, he launched Al-Ahram El-Riyadi and became its editor in chief with a long-running weekly column “Out of the Spotlight” in the magazine and Al-Ahram’s Friday issue.
In the late nineties and early 2000s, Hegazi created Al-Ahram’s International Squash Championships at the Pyramids Plateau and in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. The annual events attracted world-class players and foreign journalists who followed the matches in glass courts installed in the Giza Plateau and the Red Sea.
After retiring, Hegazi took to television, hosting the popular “In the Circle of Light”. He also continued writing sports columns, among other issues.
Having been a former reserve officer in the Special Forces, he was also keen to unveil to readers and viewers the details of Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel, relating the battles he participated in.
Personally, I was lucky to have worked with Ustaz Hegazi for almost 20 years in the Al-Ahram El-Riyadi and in the sports events he supervised, besides in Al-Ahram Weekly where I was the sports page editor. Though I reported on sports in the English language, he encouraged me to write in Arabic in his magazine and the Al-Ahram daily. He had faith in me and believed in my potential. He saw in me the skills I didn’t realise myself and taught me how to use them. I still remember the day I entered Al-Ahram El-Riyadi to find him standing in the corridor surrounded by the sports staff. He called me in and surprisingly called the office boy and told him “anything this girl needs from the buffet, it’s my treat for a whole week. She deserves it because she has written a great story”.
Rest in peace Ustaz Ibrahim. Farewell my boss.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 January, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.