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ESPN Reveals 1973 King-Riggs Match was Fixed Confirming many people's suspicions that have lingered for 40 years, an expose on ESPN.com this week showed strong evidence that Bobby Riggs deliberately lost his famous Battle of the Sexes tennis match to Billie Jean King as a way to erase his gambling debts with organized crime. The 55-year-old Riggs had throttled Margaret Court, the world's top female tennis player, in a televised match on Mother's Day 1973 6-2, 6-1. Four months later King, the defending Wimbledon champion, beat Riggs in surprisingly easy fashion 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 before a big TV audience and more than 30,000 fans at the Houston Astrodome--despite being a 5-2 underdog at Las Vegas sports books. When one views the Riggs-King match with a critical eye, Riggs played passively and listlessly--not remotely the same way he played against Court in May. Riggs' shots were soft and usually placed directly at King. Riggs, the 1939 men's Wimbledon champion, whose serve was impeccably accurate, also double-faulted at four critical points in the match--including set point in the first set. Several all-time male tennis legends, including Don Budge who achieved the Grand Slam in 1938, expressed doubts about the honesty of the match, but their doubts were dismissed as wounded male pride at the time. According to the ESPN story, Riggs was anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 in debt to the mob. A witness, now 79, who was close to the mob, told ESPN he had overheard the discussions regarding the fix. Riggs came up with a two-part plan: In exchange for having his gambling debts expunged, Riggs would goad Court into a TV match with sexist comments knowing full well he could beat her soundly. He would then purposely lose to King as a way for the mob to make a killing in wagers on King at long odds. Riggs died in 1995 at age 77. King was among the last people to speak to him.
Tags: tennis  Bobby  Riggs  Billie  Jean  King  fix 
Added: 28th August 2013
Views: 1437
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2013-08-28 
The legal bookmakers in England would not accept any bets on this match. They thought it was a gigantic set-up. These are the same bookmakers who will gladly accept bets on whether or not Elvis Presley is still alive.

I was nine years old when this match took place in 1973. I had just started to watch tennis. Even at that age I couldn't figure out why Riggs was constantly hitting the ball directly back at King and not using the whole court. Now I know...
Posted by: Steve on 2013-08-29 
I knew it when I was a teen. Then wrestling admitted being fake and I didn't know who to believe including our government. Decades later I still doubt our government!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2013-08-29 
I'm frankly surprised this isn't banner news because the result of this match was such a monumental monent for the women's equality movement. A newspaper-editor friend of mine sent me a link to the ESPN story or else I wouldn't have seen it.

When Chris Evert admitted in 1984 that she could never beat her brother (who never played tennis above the collegiate level) and when the 203rd-ranked male tennis player can dismantle both the Williams sisters, we should have known the King-Riggs match was not on the level.
Posted by: Pfc on 2013-09-03 
I had a feeling. I trusted Billy Jean it was Bobby who I couldn't trust.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2013-09-03 
With Bobby Riggs, you never knew what was real and what was a put-on. His over-the-top male chauvinist act was a put-on. He believed in equal opportunities for women. As a youth, one of Riggs' important tennis coaches was a female.

Riggs made a career of manipulating tennis matches. In matches he knew he would win, he would often drop one or two sets to make it look like he would lose. The odds would shift, and his buddies would make a huge amount of money by betting on him.

People tend to forget how good Riggs was in his prime. He went to Wimbledon in 1939 and won the men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles championship. That had never been done before. Riggs won an enormous amount of money from a London bookmaker by betting on himself to achieve the triple feat.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2013-09-20 
It's the 40th anniversary today! Have some fun by forwarding this post to militant feminists.
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