Riggs Threw Match to King

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Rob Lister
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Riggs Threw Match to King

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(Newser) – A new report by ESPN lobs some heavy accusations the late tennis legend Bobby Riggs—namely, that he threw the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" game he lost to Billie Jean King in order to pay off gambling debts to the mafia. A little history refresher: Riggs, then 55, easily defeated Margaret Court in the first Battle, but was thwarted by King later that year. According to a man who says he witnessed the whole deal go down amongst mobsters at a golf club where he was an assistant pro, both games were a set-up: Riggs, who he says owed the mob $100,000, would win the game against Court and brag about it obnoxiously to entice King to play him. Then he'd deliberately lose to King, letting his mob buddies in on the fix.
http://www.newser.com/story/173155/bobb ... sexes.html

I still remember the hoopla surrounding that match. There was a ton of promotion. Billie Jean King was the national feminist hero for a while. After losing, Riggs was all distraught and screamed for a rematch and acted the part well.
Riggs' son, Larry, confirms that his father didn't practice seriously for the match, and some "shady characters" in "flashy suits" started showing up to meet with him. Friend and former tennis great Gardnar Mulloy also says Riggs told him not to bet on him to win. And the son of tennis star Don Budge says his dad told him it was fixed. But others don't buy the allegations—arguing bookies surely would have noticed the huge wagers coming in. Riggs' former best friend says he didn't owe the mob a dime. "There are no mob people involved with this match," he says. "The mob doesn't even play tennis." King doesn't believe the story, either. "That was not really in Bobby's best interest in any way to lose that match," she says. There's way more worth reading in the full ESPN article.

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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

Could be a great movie about it if they were still making great movies. :BigGrin3:
Too bad Brando isn't around any more and young ... Coulda been a contenda ...
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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I heard of this when Sting was still "relevant" and "in a band." :P

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Rob Lister
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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I took a long nap. I'm still catching up. I'm only at disco now.

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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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Yeah, I heard about this on a podcast this morning. Sounds plausible.

According to the podcast, Court was the #1 ranked woman at the time and Riggs destroyed her.

He trained hard before his match with her, but not at all before the match with King. He did brag and taunt her a lot though.

Also he was an inveterate gambler (according to the reporter). He was always gambling on something. He was also a shark. He would often tank a set and then make a bet and then come roaring back. It was an established pattern for him. Basically I came away convinced that he threw it.

FWIW

And the ESPN story it's based on.
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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You mean the match was "Riggsed"? :o
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

Post by ed »

If he didn't throw it THEN a chick would have beaten him. Obviously silly. Therefore he MUST have thrown it.


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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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Abdul Alhazred wrote:Could be a great movie about it if they were still making great movies. :BigGrin3:
Too bad Brando isn't around any more and young ... Coulda been a contenda ...
Halfway through the match, after missing a particularly nasty serve, Riggs says: "I'm getting too old for this shit!"

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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

MrMonty wrote:
Abdul Alhazred wrote:Could be a great movie about it if they were still making great movies. :BigGrin3:
Too bad Brando isn't around any more and young ... Coulda been a contenda ...
Halfway through the match, after missing a particularly nasty serve, Riggs says: "I'm getting too old for this shit!"
:lmao:
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

Post by Anaxagoras »

Amanda Marcotte's take:
At first, it's a little hard to understand why ESPN decided to run a massive feature story floating the allegation that Bobby Riggs threw the famous Battle of the Sexes match against Billie Jean King. The evidence for the allegation is remarkably thin, mostly the grandiose claims of an aging golf pro who has a suspiciously too-perfect story about hiding nearby while Riggs arranged the fix with some famous mafiosos. Not just the fix, even, but the entire match, as well as a set-up match with Margaret Court beforehand that Riggs would win to improve his odds against King, making the skeptic inside twitch even more. That claim, beefed up with some stories of how Riggs didn't prepare well for the match, that Riggs was a gambling addict, and some comments from Riggs' friends who still don't want to believe he lost fair and square to a woman, is pretty much it. But how could ESPN resist, when this story is bound to create a massive amount of traffic?
Every single embittered, sexist man in the country—every Fox viewer, every Limbaugh fan, every visitor to Ask Men—is going to eagerly forward this story to every guy he knows, chortling triumphantly that this finally proves that women are in fact the weaker sex.
. . .
In a sense, the people being most exploited here are the men whose egos are so wrapped up in the athletic performance of other men. These are the men whose need to believe in the physical inferiority of women is so great that they are eager to readjudicate a match played 40 years ago to soothe their troubled souls.
I'll just point out that it never occurred to me before that Riggs might have thrown the match. I never had a rooting interest against King. If anything, I tend to root for the underdog, and King would be the underdog in this story. I'd never even heard that Riggs beat Court so badly (Court, not King was the top-ranked woman player at the time) prior to the King match. The King match is the only one people seem to remember because it's the only one the media ever talks about. Even if we throw out the story of the former golf pro as unreliable, there still seems to be plenty of circumstantial evidence in the story that is consistent with Riggs throwing the match.

It seems that she wants to dismiss it as the wishes of "embittered, sexist men" "who still don't want to believe he lost fair and square to a woman". And there probably are "embittered, sexist men" out there who might take solace from this story. But, it could still be true, regardless of that. I don't think anything is proven here, but I found it compelling and reasonably believable as a factual matter.
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Re: Riggs Threw Match to King

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See?

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"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out." – Don
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"Doctor X wins again." – Pyrrho
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Shit. That's going to end up in your sig." – Pyrrho
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