Author Topic: ESPN, ABC: Did Bobby Riggs throw his match against Billy Jean King?  (Read 406 times)

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Offline Cincinnatus

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I will post this a little out of order so as to give those not familiar with the match some background:

If you weren’t around for this, it may be difficult to relate just what a big deal this match was.  From schoolyards to business offices, people chose sides and argued vehemently about the possible outcomes and the relative skills of the two professional athletes.  Those who cheered for Riggs became known (mostly by choice) as “Rigg’s Pigs,” a reference to the insult “male chauvinist pigs” thrown at those opposed to the feminist movement at the time.  Riggs, who certainly knew how to promote the match, cut a deal with Sugar Daddy candies, if I recall correctly, and surrounded himself with a bevy of beautiful women to stoke interest.  The match itself drew 90 million viewers worldwide, making it one of the most-watched sporting events ever, and easily the most-watched tennis match in the US at least to that time.

It really was all that. Now, however, comes allegations Riggs, a first class hustler if there ever was one, threw the match.

The “Battle of the Sexes,” a 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and a former Grand Slam champion, was rigged by the mob, according to a new report.

The tennis match between King and the late Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champ, was a spectacle watched by millions around the world Sept. 20, 1973. More than 30,000 people packed the Houston Astrodome to see whether King, 29 at the time, could defeat a man.

King beat Riggs, who was 55 at the time of the match, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave women’s tennis a huge boost in terms of respect and gender equality, but an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report says the whole match was fixed because Riggs owed mobsters more than $100,000 and threw the match to erase the debt.

Both King and Rigg's son deny the claim and the author notes,
However, I’m pretty skeptical about this, and not just because the intense media spotlight on the game would have made it more difficult to pull off.  Riggs was almost twice the age of King at the time of this match, 55 years old to her 29, and both were world-class athletes.  Even today, when 55 is a lot younger than it used to be, a 29-year-old woman on a tennis court will have fresher legs and more stamina than a 55-year-old man, especially one who threw himself more into promotion than practice in the weeks leading up to the match.  In retrospect, Riggs seems fortunate to have made it as competitive as he did, losing in three straight sets and two service breaks down in each of the final two sets.

Still there is the questionable character of Bobby Riggs and the unexplained statement, This report is based on one overheard conversation from months earlier, one that didn’t even involve Riggs. I make no claims beyond stating it's possible.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: ESPN, ABC: Did Bobby Riggs throw his match against Billy Jean King?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 11:51:01 PM »
I watched that match.   They hyped it as much as Geraldo going into Capone's vault.
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Offline truth_seeker

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Re: ESPN, ABC: Did Bobby Riggs throw his match against Billy Jean King?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 11:52:37 PM »
Watched it live on TV  and he got beat, fair and square.

Online jmyrlefuller

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Re: ESPN, ABC: Did Bobby Riggs throw his match against Billy Jean King?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 08:04:22 AM »
He didn't necessarily have to "throw" the match, per se. As others have said, a 55-year-old man, even a Grand Slam champion, is not going to have the strength or stamina to hold up to a full match against a world-class tennis player at her peak, even if she is a woman. Even if he had made a deal with the mafia, it would not have taken much effort for Riggs to "let" King beat him soundly. Riggs was just too old.

In fact, the age difference was about the only thing that made this contest a fair fight. Among peers, the man would win almost every time (Riggs actually did beat Margaret Smith Court a few weeks prior, and easily). It would be like putting Pele and his cohorts up against the current U.S. women's soccer team.
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Offline DCPatriot

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Re: ESPN, ABC: Did Bobby Riggs throw his match against Billy Jean King?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2013, 08:19:21 AM »
No way he was throwing that match.....
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