1973: Iconic “Feminist” Sports Win Was Faked
by David Sims
ON 20 September 1973, a female tennis star in her prime, Billie Jean King (age 29), matched with an elderly former male tennis champion, Bobby Riggs (age 55), and she beat him in what is now called “the battle of the sexes” tennis match.
Setting aside the fact that Bobby Riggs was an older man, not decrepit, but well past his own prime, there is another reason to regard the game as having been unfairly conducted.
A report states that Bobby Riggs had gambling debts, and Mafia-associated gangsters, endeavoring to collect on those debts, presented Riggs with a shady financial arrangement. If Riggs would throw “the battle of the sexes” tennis match, the gangsters would forgive his debts. It has been covered, but not highlighted or emphasized, in the media. The New York Daily News reported nine years ago:
Tennis great Billie Jean King scored a victory for women everywhere when she trounced aging chauvinist Bobby Riggs 40 years ago — but her triumphant win in the “Battle of the Sexes” may have been manipulated by the Mafia, according to a bombshell new report.
More than 50 million Americans tuned in on Sept. 20, 1973, to watch King, at the top of her game, decimate former champ Riggs in what remains the most viewed US tennis match of all time and one of the high points of the feminist movement.
It came just four months after Riggs gave Margaret Court — the No. 1-ranked female player — a drubbing in a similar exhibition game.
King — who was a 29-year-old Wimbledon winner and women’s liberation supporter when she wiped the court with the decrepit Riggs — shot down the report by ESPN Monday as the US Open got underway in Queens.
“This story is just ridiculous,” said King. “I was on the court with Bobby, and I know he was not tanking the match.”
She told the Daily News the juicy new plot “doesn’t bother me at all” — and questioned why it wasn’t revealed four decades ago.
“I don’t care — that’s all that matters,” said King. “It was fair and square because I was there.”
King’s victory netted her $100,000 in prize money and bragging rights in perpetuity, but according to country-club worker Hal Shaw, it was all a mob-run ruse.
Shaw, 79, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he witnessed a late-night clandestine Mafia meeting 40 years ago inside the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa.
He heard Riggs telling mob lawyer Frank Ragano, and Santo Trafficante Jr. and Carlos Marcello — mobsters who ran operations in Florida and New Orleans — that he would throw the “Battle of the Sexes” if the Mafia forgave his $100,000 gambling debts.
Riggs said he was prepared to “set up two matches . . . against the two best women players in the world,” Shaw told OTL.
Shaw claimed he was too “petrified” to reveal himself that night.
He refused comment Monday when a Daily News reporter knocked at his Tampa home.
“I’m not talking,” he shouted.
Riggs, a life-long gambler, was known as the “Happy Hustler.”
He prepared for his match against King by packing on 15 pounds with nonstop partying.
Even so, the odds were 5 to 2 in his favor.
When they finally squared off, Riggs, 55, was sluggish and sweaty. His play lacked his characteristic speed and smarts.
Riggs died in 1995 at age 77.
The feminists crowed about the win of Billie Jean King, but why? A woman in her twenties ought to be able to beat a man in his fifties at tennis, for the same reason she should be able to beat a boy in his single-digit years at tennis.
Now, on top of that, we have the report that Bobby Riggs might have intentionally let Billie Jean King have the victory because he was fearful that criminals would otherwise inflict harm upon him.
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