Hot Topics

Trending news, culture, and entertainment from Hearst producers around the country.

Was Billie Jean King’s win in ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ rigged?

|

It was promoted as “The Battle of the Sexes” — the garish costumes, the not-so-veiled displays of sexism, the money, the spectacle. It was all part of the staged court side drama when 29-year-old tennis star Billie Jean King took on over-the-hill former Wimbledon champ Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome in 1973 to show the world that a woman could really best a man on the court.

But was the match itself staged too?

Forty years later, the match seems completely ludicrous and now, to make it all the more lurid, some are suggesting the entire this was staged by the mafia. A new report in ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” says just that.

Reporter Don Van Natta Jr. talked to a South Florida golf pro who — after 40 years — has broken his silence and come forward with the allegation that he overheard four big-time mobsters setting up the whole prospect of the televised event as a way to erase Riggs’ massive gambling debt to the mafia and send him on a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

The pro, Hal Shaw, and fellow golfers and tennis pros told ESPN that Riggs was a gambling addict; that he was constantly throwing around big money on the links with mafia heavies and other unsavory characters. And that he was in deep.

So when Riggs went about promoting the match with chauvinistic rants and absurd publicity stunts, was he simply trying to drum up press for the event, or was he making sure that sports bettors would take notice, enabling the mob to rake in piles of cash from of a predetermined loss?

Read the full story over at ESPN and you decide.

Categories: General
Chris Preovolos

Comments are closed.