Ismail Marjan
Ismail Marjan in 1949
Personal information
Nickname(s)Pak Mail[1]
Birth nameIsmail bin Haji Marjan
Born(1920-06-07)7 June 1920[1]
British Malaya
Died25 January 1991(1991-01-25) (aged 70)[2]
Medal record
Men's badminton
Representing  Malaya
Thomas Cup
Gold medal – first place 1952 Singapore Team

Ismail bin Marjan (7 June 1920 – 25 January 1991) was a badminton player from Malaya/Singapore who had won many individual and doubles titles at local, regional and international competitions throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was best known for his doubles prowess as he partnered Ong Poh Lim to win several major honors in Asia and Europe.[2] Ismail was the first Malay to have won the prestigious Thomas Cup.[3]

Early life

Ismail was born on 7 June 1920, in British Malaya. He was the son of Haji Marjan. Ismail began playing badminton at a young age in the local Malay badminton community. He later competed at the junior levels of the Johore Bahru District and Malays' Championships[4][5] and found success in both the boys' singles and doubles events.[6][7]

Badminton career

Ismail's involvement in senior competitive badminton began when he joined the Dapat Badminton Party,[7] winning numerous titles at both local and regional tournaments. Thereafter, he joined the Devonshire Badminton Party[8] and was nurtured by Coach Yap Che Te. He soon became the "No. 2" singles player in Singapore, behind Wong Peng Soon.[9]

He began playing doubles with Ong Poh Lim whom he won the 1950 Malaysia Open men's doubles title.[10] In 1951, Ismail and Ong swept all major tournament titles during an eight-month tour of Europe, including the Danish, French and British doubles titles.[9] In the All England Badminton Championship of 1951, they made it to the final of the men's doubles but were defeated by Malaysian pair David Choong and Eddy Choong.[11] In 1952, he became world champion with the team of Malaya in the Thomas Cup[12] and won his second consecutive Denmark Open men's doubles titles with Ong.[13] In 1953 and 1956, he again won the Malaysia Open men's doubles titles with Ong.[14][15] As a pair, they also won seven consecutive Singapore Open men's doubles titles from 1950 to 1956.[16]

Ismail's doubles partnership with Ong was described by Wong Peng Soon as "the best doubles combination" he had ever seen. In the 1951 French Open men's singles semi-final, Ismail gave Ong a walkover so that the latter would be better rested for his final match against Wong Peng Soon. Ong went on to defeat Wong in the men's singles final as well as winning the men's doubles title with Ismail.[17]

Ismail's dedication to badminton was laudable as he was still serving as advisor to the F&N Badminton Training Scheme[18] up to his death. He had helped to coach the national team and the youths in the training scheme for several years.[19]

Personal life

Ismail had three sons and five daughters.[20] Two of his sons, Razali and Hassan, were coaches for Rose Badminton Party in Singapore.[2] The family lived at a kampong in Jalan Ladang back in the day.[21]


Ismail died on 25 January 1991 at the Singapore General Hospital due to heart and stomach illness. He was 70 years old. He was buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery.[2]

Honours and awards

Ismail was inducted into the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) Sports Museum Hall of Fame in 1986.[9]


Year Tournament Discipline Result
1950 Malaysia Open[10] Men's doubles Winner
1951 All England[22] Men's doubles Runner-up
1951 French Open[23] Men's doubles Winner
1951 Denmark Open[13] Men's doubles Winner
1952 Thomas Cup[24] Team Winner
1952 Denmark Open (2)[13] Men's doubles Winner
1953 Malaysia Open (2)[14] Men's doubles Winner
1956 Malaysia Open (3)[15] Men's doubles Winner


  1. ^ a b "Perginya jaguh badminton". Berita Harian. 27 January 1991.
  2. ^ a b c d "Badminton great Ismail dies". The Straits Times. 26 January 1991.
  3. ^ "The End Of The Road For 2". Sunday Standard. 20 October 1957.
  4. ^ "Badminton in Johore". Malaya Tribune. 8 October 1936.
  5. ^ "Johore Bahru Malays". The Straits Times. 24 September 1939.
  6. ^ "Wins Title After Being Set Down". Malaya Tribune. 20 August 1940.
  7. ^ a b "J.B. Badminton Champion". The Straits Times. 10 August 1941.
  8. ^ "Inter-Club Badminton Semi-Final". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 13 October 1941.
  9. ^ a b c "SSC Sports Museum Hall of Fame". Singapore Sports Council. 12 October 2007. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Marjan And Poh Lim Baffle Sel. Pair". Malaya Tribune. 8 August 1950.
  11. ^ "Peng Soon retains the title". The Straits Times. 11 March 1951.
  12. ^ "Those glorious badminton days of the Fifties". Singapore Monitor. 5 June 1985.
  13. ^ a b c "Denmark Open past winners". 22 August 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Poh Lim, Marjan Regain Honours". Singapore Standard. 24 August 1953.
  15. ^ a b "Doubles To Ong, Marjan". The Straits Times. 7 August 1956.
  16. ^ "Marvellous Marjan, master of the shuttle". New Nation. 8 July 1975.
  17. ^ "Ong Poh Lim feat. Ismail Marjan". Singapore Infopedia. 2010.
  18. ^ "F&N scheme to start an elite team". The Straits Times. 28 March 1986.
  19. ^ "Ismail bin Haji Marjan (Oral History Interview)". National Archives of Singapore. 7 December 1989.
  20. ^ "Ismail hospitalised in serious condition". The Straits Times. 5 January 1991.
  21. ^ "$1,000 For Ismail Marjan Fund". The Straits Times. 3 November 1966.
  22. ^ "It's mind over matter for badminton legend". The Jakarta Post. 13 February 2005. Archived from the original on 14 February 2005.
  23. ^ "Fédération Française de Badminton". 2015. Archived from the original on 7 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Thomas Cup past winners". 15 October 2014.