August 26, 2013

Did the Mob win feminism's biggest battle?

Back in 1973, the biggest deal in the history of the world was a tennis match between the top American woman, 29-year-old Billie Jean King, and a 55-year-old tennis and golf hustler named Bobby Riggs. Riggs, a small man, had won Wimbledon as an amateur in 1939, and played some successful pro tennis after the War. Since then he'd supported himself gambling, such as playing amateurs using an umbrella while holding a dog on a leash. (Sports used to be more fun when they were mostly excuses for betting.)

In a television match earlier in 1973, Riggs had easily defeated the #1 ranked woman, Australian Margaret Court, flummoxing her with his cunning Old Man Game of dinks and floaters.

Jerry Perenchio, future owner of Univision, then set up a giant promotion machine to make the Riggs-King match in the Astrodome a referendum on Women's Lib. Riggs spent four months partying, showed up fat and listless, and was thoroughly drubbed by King, who, mercifully, denied him the contractually-required rematch.

A new article in ESPN by Don Van Natta Jr. (hat tip Jonathan Last) fleshes out the long-time rumor that Riggs threw the match to get out of debt to his mafia bookmakers. The journalist has found some guy who claimed to have overheard hitmen spell out the whole plan. It sounds much like JFK assassination lore.

Since then, there have been remarkably few Battles of the Sexes. Even before then, it was known that the best women softball pictures could strike out major league batters, at least until the guys got a chance to adjust to underhand pitching. But, mostly, nothing much happens.

Back in 2003, Annika Sorenstam got really pumped up and entered a PGA tournament. She was only one over par the first day, and that became a 24-hours wonder in the media, but she faded on the second day and missed the cut by four strokes, as I had predicted.

It would be interesting to know what other Landmark Cultural Milestones were rigged.

There's been a rumor that in recent years a Very Famous tennis or golf star had to be bailed out of 8 or 9 figures of debt to his sports bookmakers by his marketing company. I suspect that the rise of endorsement income in the country club sports has lowered the incentive to throw tournaments.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve, Wired's featuring a particularly detailed map of racial distribution. You'd probably find it interesting. http://www.wired.com/design/2013/08/how-segregated-is-your-city-this-eye-opening-map-shows-you/?mbid=social11197614#slideid-210281

MC said...

Agassi? He is from Las Vegas...

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to learn that the 55 y.o. Riggs defeated the world's #1-ranked female tennis player earlier the same year. I can't imagine that, today, a former tennis pro in late middle age could beat a currently top-ranked female player. For example, could John McEnroe, say, really beat Serena Williams or Anna Sharapova today?

C. Van Carter said...

The time Amarillo Slim beat Riggs at Ping-Pong for $10,000.

Anonymous said...

The obvious point that's still soooo overlooked, is that Riggs at the time was 55 YEARS OLD. He won Wimbledon before Ms King was even born! Plus he was not the most dominant tennis player of the pre-open era to begin with.

2 things:


1. If Billie Jean King had played Pancho Gonzales, THAT might have been more interesting. In '73, he would've been 45 yrs old, at least closer to King's age of 29.


Barring that,

2. Ms King should've played a CURRENTLY RANKED men's player such as Arthur Ashe, who was about the same age as King. OR she should have played a younger man, an up and coming player, such as Jimmy Connors.

Now THAT would've been a true test of the "battle of the sexes" type of match.

vandelay said...

You don't see this cited that much anymore though as evidence of equality. Frankly I'm surprised that it ever was, it's so pathetic, even if King's win was legit.

On one hand you have the best female tennis player in the world beating a twice-as-old, out of shape guy who spent most of his days drinking and smoking, and on the other hand she only won because the old, out of shape guy decided to drop the match. The first scenario is marginally better, but it doesn't exactly cover King in glory.

Even people who don't think that the game was thrown admit that Riggs was in it for the publicity and the payday. On the other end however feminists and women's lib folks were entirely invested in the match as a proxy for their ideological battle. That's just sad.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know what other Landmark Cultural Milestones were rigged.
Saint Rosa Parks

Cail Corishev said...

The Wikipedia page on the Battle of the Sexes (tennis) lists several others that have taken place, and they've all been pretty embarrassing for the women. Connors easily beat Navratilova, for instance, even though he was only allowed one serve per point and had to defend the larger doubles court. When the Williams sisters were 16 and 17, they were bragging about how they could beat any man ranked lower than #200, so the #203 man in the world beat them badly in one set each, one right after the other, saying later that he thought any man ranked #500 or better could have done it.

There's just no comparison.

Anonymous said...

-Steve also forgot to mention the "Special rules". Riggs had to cover the WHOLE COURT (i.e. the doubles area) and was limited to only ONE Serve.

-BTW, there was no mention of BJK being a lesbo back then.

As for sexual equality in tennis, its well known that the 150th best male tennis player could easily defeat either of the Williams sisters. which is why you never see them play men.

Anonymous said...

What's amazing to me is that Billie Jean King is so blinded by her feminist triumph that she can't even conceive of a world where Riggs got debt relief from the mob by tanking in the biggest tennis match in history.

If you don't think this stuff happens, I refer you to horse racing with the 1994 Kentucky Derby. Holy Bull was a 6-5 favorite and placed 12th in the worst race of his life. Typically a big favorite losing a stakes race that horribly would have resulted in drug testing, but the stewards didn't do that. And it was the Derby, for Pete's sake. But the Churchill Downs vet, Dr. Fix-It, was well-connected with the right people over many decades.

Then there is the 1964 Derby. Supposedly Northern Dancer got Lasix, then illegal, prior to the race. He won by a nose in one of the Derby's classic stretch runs. And the infamous 1968 Derby when Dancer's Image was disqualified for doping in post-race testing. These fixes have Dr Fix-It's fingerprints all over them.

Any big-handle sporting event is prone to fixing, it's just harder to fix team sports than horse racing, golf or tennis.

slumber_j said...

I was discussing the historical disparity between ladies' and men's championship prize purses with a (heterosexual, I guess we now have to say) married couple after viewing the men's Wimbledon final this summer. She thought it was all very unjust--and she's generally a pretty reasonable person.

After the husband's pointing out the best-of-five- v. best-of-three-sets disparity and having that rejected by his wife, I proposed a winner-take-all final for whoever the victor of a mixed singles' championship might end up being. That pretty much ended the conversation.

Steve Sailer said...

Pancho Gonzales was asked about playing Billie Jean after she beat Riggs and he scoffed.

Anonymous said...

Connors vs Navratilova

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_(tennis)#Navratilova_v_Connors

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer said...
Pancho Gonzales was asked about playing Billie Jean after she beat Riggs and he scoffed.


Right, but it would have been a far more interesting match. Unlike Riggs, do you see Pancho throwing the match to King, hyper-competitive as he was?

Also, I mentioned Billie Jean should have tried to play a match with either Arthur Ashe, someone who was her own age and currently ranked at the time as she was OR someone such as a young Jimmy Connors, who in '73 was about to burst onto the world tennis scene in a yr or two.

For King to actually beat a professional male tennis player either around her own age currently ranked and/or a younger male tennis player would've made world headlines and strengthened her ideology that yes, women could play as well as the men.


King vs Ashe or King vs Connors would've been very interesting to watch.

Cail Corishev said...

Steve also forgot to mention the "Special rules". Riggs had to cover the WHOLE COURT (i.e. the doubles area) and was limited to only ONE Serve.

You're confusing the Riggs/King match with the Connors/Navratilova one. Riggs and King played by the same rules; the lopsided part was their ages and his lack of fitness. Even so, as other matches have shown, pretty much any ranked male player can beat pretty much any female player straight up, so Riggs may very well have had to throw it to lose.

Now THAT would've been a true test of the "battle of the sexes" type of match.

People in the game don't see any need for such a "test," because they know it wouldn't be a contest. Serena Williams (not someone known for a lack of ego) was recently asked about playing Andy Murray, and said she was willing, but didn't expect that she'd win a single point. She probably wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

"It would be interesting to know what other Landmark Cultural Milestones were rigged."

Rosa Parks. Claudette Colvin among others were the ones that actually had to face down Montgomery authorities. The NAACP somehow managed to get the telegenic Rosa Parks to get the credit long after it was confirmed that nothing much would happen to someone who sat in the front of the bus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudette_Colvin

This is apparently common knowledge in the Black community. The movie Barbershop made light of it with the old blow hard barber constantly referencing Mrs Parks and how lots of other people did the same thing.

Then of course there is the WMD ...

Anonymous said...

Riggs used to win doubles match bets with a donkey on his team. He was known for massively high lobs that were very difficult to judge. I heard that he was a bit of a feminist and threw the match to boost the cause.

Anonymous said...

Rosa Parks. Claudette Colvin among others were the ones that actually had to face down Montgomery authorities. The NAACP somehow managed to get the telegenic Rosa Parks to get the credit long after it was confirmed that nothing much would happen to someone who sat in the front of the bus.


Claudette Colvin, wasn't she the single mother and the uppity one? She'd have made Rachel Jeantel sound as if she graduated from Harvard.

POINT: There's a reason that Parks, a wife and mother, AND secretary of the NAACP and friend of Martin Luther King was chosen as the symbol of the whole issue.

Anonymous said...

a few years ago john mcenroe did indeed challenge the williams sister because they were running their mouths about being able to beat men.


i think they really did believe their own hype until:

"Braasch competed in a 'Battle of the Sexes' contest against Venus Williams and Serena Williams at the 1998 Australian Open when he was ranked 203. A decade and a half older than the sisters, Braasch was described by one journalist as "a man whose training regime centred around a pack of cigarettes and more than a couple bottles of ice cold lager."[2] He nonetheless defeated both sisters, playing a single set against each, beating Serena 6–1 and Venus 6–2."


and they would get absolutely smoked by a good male juniors player so no, that wouldnt be more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Old Vegas people I know claim it was fixed from the beginning but meant to be a best of 3 series and that Riggs was supposed to win the rematch to force a playoff to maximize the money, but King opted out of the 2nd round, presumably so it would be a more resounding defeat.

King was in on the fixing as much as Riggs, so the story goes.

Anonymous said...

"I heard that he was a bit of a feminist and threw the match to boost the cause."

Riggs was a country club grifter. He threw the match to make money and to keep from sleeping with the fishes.

Anonymous said...

Even Sailer can't speak ill of media darling Mickelson?

Anonymous said...

For example, could John McEnroe, say, really beat Serena Williams or Anna Sharapova today?

Yes, he could, Serena backed out of an exhibition with Johnny Mac years ago, when she was much fleeter of foot than today, although McEnroe was younger as well. Saw McEnroe mucking it up post-match with Djokovic a few years ago at the US Open. That guy still has a big time serve that I imagine most female players could not handle at all. Both Williams sisters played an over the hill but still active male player at the 1998 Australian Open back to back during off days for all 3 of them, the player was primarily a doubles guy and 32 years old and a nearly one pack a day smoker, but crushed them both in straight sets. At the time of the match, Venus and Serena were only 17 and 16 years old. If they couldn't keep up with a smoker nearly double their age what chance would they against males now that they are older and slower? Serena barely moves anymore, she just overpowers little Eastern European girls with her power strokes from the baseline.

Anonymous said...

"It would be interesting to know what other Landmark Cultural Milestones were rigged."

It's not really a cultural milestone, but the Ali v. Liston rematch fight was likely a first round dive.

ironrailsironweights said...

I heard a fairly knowledgeable man say a while back that a top WNBA player, one of the league's stars, could be a starter on a men's Division III college basketball team, a substitute on a Division II team, and maybe a lesser-used substitute on a Division I team in one of the weaker conferences.

Peter

GrouchoMarxist said...

1973 brings up a larger issue on the feminism front. I have always believed that there is an intersection between the rise of feminism and the ending of the military draft (of men). Note also that Roe v. Wade was also decided in 1973. I checked a bit once with the Index of Periodical Literature and prior to 1973, articles under "women" tended to have to do, not with feminism or politics, but, rather, hemlines and recipes (that sort of thing). My take is that women held off on "equality" until the very unequal military draft was abolished.

slumber_j said...

Braasch's Wikipedia entry also says:

"He was well-noted for his service motion and his habit of smoking during changeovers."

The Joe DiMaggio of tennis.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of rigged....

Danica Patrick winning the pole at Daytona.

Edo Lasani said...

There was a great Odd Couple TV episode that Riggs was a guest star in.

Truth said...

"King vs Ashe or King vs Connors would've been very interesting to watch."

Why would a 6-0, 6-0 match be interesting?

Charlesz Martel said...

Rosa Parks was E. D. Nixon's mistress.

Billy Jean King said in a Playboy interview that Gonzales would have crushed her- she couldn't return his serve. "I beat an old man" is what she said, and acknowledged that many senior make tennis players would have beaten her.

It was sad to watch her apologize for being a lesbian, however.

Anonymous said...


It was sad to watch her apologize for being a lesbian, however.


Why's that? Isn't she very good at it?

Or is it she forgot how to do it?

Certainly, she owes her HUSBAND (Mr King) an apology.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat related: Serena Williams actually ended Michael Chang's career after she beat him up and stuffed him in a locker for making eye contact with her at a tennis club.

Anonymous said...

re: basketball


top female players get run out of the gym in college pickup games against men -- and i don't mean the men's basketball team.

any college *football* team could make a basketball team that would simply overwhelm a team of the greatest women basketball players in the world. it just wouldnt be competitive.


there's no such thing as a woman who could compete for playing time at a D2 men's program.

Jane Go Unchained said...

As important: was BJK juicing by 1973?

When she began (early 60s), she was downright plump. She slimmed down some, but even by 1967, she was still chunky:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/magazine/plays-tennis-like-a-man-speaks-out-like-billie-jean-king.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

See any muscle tone? I don't.

She was always feisty but over the years became downright aggressive. Look at the muscles in the pics of the Van Natta article.

Yeah, I know: she lost weight and worked out. That's the line. I'm not buying it. I think she lost weight, worked out - and went on the juice.

Hollywood Wikileaks is what I'm waiting for.

Anonymous said...

It was sad to watch her apologize for being a lesbian, however.

Why's that? Wasn't she very good at it?

RonMexico said...

Re: the fix. I hear that Wrestlemania 3 was fixed.
Re: basketball. Knew someone (6'1", avg HS player, male) who was one of the practice players for Ohio St. women's basketball. He and the other guys routinely schooled a top D1 women's program, albeit in a practice setting. No way a good D1 woman can play for a D3. Could a chick have the endurance alone to keep up with a Grinnell College? No effing way. Think Griner could? Louisville ran her into the ground in the Final Four.

Antioco Dascalon said...

This is related to the last posts. The one area that feminists must defend against transsexual activists is sports. It's all well and good for a 50 something billionaire to declare that he is female, but what if a 500th ranked pro-tennis player declares that he is female and demands to be in the Women's Tour? Or the LPGA? Or the WNBA? Or women's soccer? Why does biology matter in sports alone but not any other part of society? You must have a vagina to kick a ball around but it is optional when marrying a man? In what universe is sex more relevant in sports than in family formation? Ours, apparently.

Charlesz Martel said...

I read the ESPN article, and in reference to casinos not liking unbalanced lines in their sports books-
I knew a pilot in Vegas whose job was to fly men with suitcases of cash around the country. They would get off the plane, hand the case to another man in a limo at the tarmac, take his case and on to the next city. They were casino men balancing excessive action at the casino with mob men who were laying off excess action from their illegal bookies- mostly the Kansas City mob. This was a regular job, pushing Lears, for years.
Don't know if this still goes on, but I assume it does.
Plus ca change,......

Aaron Gross said...

That was an interesting period in the history of feminism (then still called women's liberation). The media were picking up on it, but the masses hadn't been converted.

My parents were both pretty typical left-liberals, and they were both rooting for Bobby Riggs. My father hated women's libbers ("strident broads") and my mother couldn't stand Billie Jean King because she (King) had no sense of humor. I was a little junior liberal and the only one in the house rooting for King (equality!).

If you look at a snapshot of feminism at the time of the match, I think you'll see where it had permeated the cultural elite but not yet moved downward.

Anonymous said...

A lot has been made of this exhibition game although I confess to being very doubtful about it's bona fides

Remember Margaret Court (nee Smith ) was a much more accomplished player than King ( just check their records although King being a US liberal rather than an Australian conservative means that she is much better known in the US )

Anonymous said...

As I've said many times a select group of 7th grade boys would beat a WNBA team.

Also Ronnie Harmon threw the 1985 Rose Bowl fumbling 5 times for Iowa while only fumbling twice all year.

Dan in DC

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Most people have had their understanding of the vast differences between male/female athletic performance and strength clouded by the increasing prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, feminist/PC propaganda, and the use of steroids by female athletes in recent decades.

That's why people now are much more surprised than they were then to hear Riggs beat the #1. People back then (and further back even more so) had a much more intuitive understanding of the differences between the sexes and hence a lot more willingness to order the world around this natural reality.

I was a kid back then, but remember the event clearly. That BJK beat Riggs hardly seemed to be a blow for equality, but rather that it was even any sort of contest between her and a man nearly twice her age seemed to underscore the obvious differences between men and women.

sporty said...

In the middle ages (I think it was then; sounds right), when a trial had to be decided by some sort of combat, and the two antagonists were of different sexes (they only acknowledged two in those days), the woman was given a break by making the man stand in a hole. I never quite got that though. He could do flying low knee fling and get her off her feet unless she was really strong and bopped his head first.
It would have been interesting to watch. The King-Riggs thing was of that ilk, methinks.

sunbeam said...

This steroids thing is something that really interests me.

My best guess is that we would be amazed at how widespread it is in sports (and probably for a long time).

Honestly if you think about it, any athlete who doesn't use PED's is probably an abnormality.

John Mansfield said...

I miss the era when Bobby Riggs vs. Billy Jean King or Evil Knievel vs. whatever he was jumping over next got the kind of broad attention that goes to Donald Trump and the Cardashians now.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The only athlete I can conceive of fitting the description of having an 8 or 9 figure gambling debt (not named Jordan) is Mickelson.

Anonymous said...

Marvin Hagler/Sugar Ray Leonard

roundeye said...

One way or the other, it would be an awesome movie. Period piece: awesome tennis whites, shoddy old country club with the lot filled with giant old Cadillacs and Lincolns.

Who would play Riggs? Ben Stiller?

It would have to be played with a comic touch.

pat said...

It's funny how these rumors work. I saw the Billy Jean King/Bobby Riggs match on TV. No one at the time suggested that the fix was in.

At about the same time as that match I watched the Muhammad Ali matches on TV and they were all surrounded with rumors about being fixed. Yet today no one seems to remember those rumors.

Over on YouTube I have suggested gently that at least some of Ali's fights may have been fixed. Liston was all mobbed up and everyone feared the Black Muslims. But now great is the howling and wailing among the faithful. I'm told I must be crazy to suggest that "The Greatest" could have been in any way tainted.

Another bit of trivia from those days: There was discussion by female commentators in the press as to the size of Rigg's genitals. That's how I knew feminism had truly arrived.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

What's known as damning with faint praise.

Mike said...

The golf writer for the local paper used to be on my hockey team. He told me the golfer had to endorse over the check he earned at each tournament to the casino. The casino rep was at the course each Sunday waiting for the check. (Probably hyperbole, given direct deposit, etc.) I asked why isn't that in the paper? The response: no body really has any proof.

If they all knew about it, what level of proof did they need?

And why am I not mentioning his name?

Whitehall said...

Who won the Congeniality Award?

When Riggs stepped into the lights carrying a huge "Sugar Daddy" candy bar and wearing a Sugar Daddy warmup jacket, he got my vote!

His opponent was on the "That's Not Funny" team.

How much would you guess Riggs made on the endorsement?

Dahinda said...

I am suprised that nobody pointed out the irony of Bobby having the name "Riggs." Sounds almost like a mob-given nickname!

Anonymous said...

I miss the era when Bobby Riggs vs. Billy Jean King or Evil Knievel vs. whatever he was jumping over next got the kind of broad attention

So do I. The pre-cable "Wide World of Sports" era. Remember the weird things they could usually be counted on to cover for an audience of millions? Lumberjack contests. Acapulco cliff diving. Rodeos. Each of them getting as many pairs of eyeballs as an NBA final game would today.

jody said...

"It would be interesting to know what other Landmark Cultural Milestones were rigged."

wasn't the rosa parks thing a setup? that it wasn't some spontaneous event which became famous, but rather was planned out ahead of time i mean, by conspirators, who told her what to do, and arranged for all the media coverage.

C. Van Carter said...

The funniest thing about Braasch beating the Williams sisters is he wasn't trying.

jody said...

what's interesting is that this is never a question in measured sports. nobody thinks women can compete with men in track & field, swimmning, or weightlifting. in fact, in those sports, because they are measured, you can tell exactly the distance between the best woman and the field of men.

but in ball sports, this question still comes up. it's not much different, the best woman is hundreds of positions behind the men. but because the sport is not measured, people continue to ask.

this carries over into comparing men against men from different eras in ball sports. but only in some sports. basketball and boxing are the ones that are always talked about. soccer, baseball, tennis, and golf somewhere in the middle. and football the least.

probably most troubling for the feminist position is something like chess. while chess is not a measured sport, or even a sport, the player rankings are mathematical and well developed, with a good degree of predictive power. so they are less like an opinion, the way boxing rankings are handled, and more like a score, the way tennis rankings are handled.

yet in this purely mental game, there has only ever been 1 woman ranked in the top 100 in the world.

Deckin said...

The tennis player you're looking for is Ygenyey Kafelnikov. The word is he actually quit the tour to focus on poker. Davidenko is also rumored to be more than a little Russian mobbed up.

Charlesz Martel said...

Remember Renee Richards, from 30 years ago? Won the right to play women's tennis- as a transgender. He/She ranked as the 20th female player.

secretariat the exception said...

I conclude, after long thought on the subject, that 50 to 100 of the Babes home runs were because some mobster told his moll he could guarantee a Ruth HR if she went to the ballpark with him that afternoon and some buyable, blackmailable, or seducable, or otherwise loserish schlub opponent pitcher was instructed as to this beforehand = grooved balls bounce back over a fence rather easily (takes nothing away from Ruth who had to face pitchers who would throw junk to other guys but concentrate on him, most days, and nothing away from Keenesaw et al., who could not police things at that level). I also guess that Every single outstanding baseball speed and endurance stat from WWII to the Ryan Braun suspension that was not achieved by a deeply religious or freakishly honest player was made not a little but much more possible by amphetamines and other Kennedyesque chemicals. Not to say that the great players were not great, just that we need to judge them by other criteria than numbers.

secretariat the exception said...

I conclude, after long thought on the subject, that 50 to 100 of the Babes home runs were because some mobster told his moll he could guarantee a Ruth HR if she went to the ballpark with him that afternoon and some buyable, blackmailable, or seducable, or otherwise loserish schlub opponent pitcher was instructed as to this beforehand = grooved balls bounce back over a fence rather easily (takes nothing away from Ruth who had to face pitchers who would throw junk to other guys but concentrate on him, most days, and nothing away from Keenesaw et al., who could not police things at that level). I also guess that Every single outstanding baseball speed and endurance stat from WWII to the Ryan Braun suspension that was not achieved by a deeply religious or freakishly honest player was made not a little but much more possible by amphetamines and other Kennedyesque chemicals. Not to say that the great players were not great, just that we need to judge them by other criteria than numbers.

ben tillman said...

"King vs Ashe or King vs Connors would've been very interesting to watch."

Why would a 6-0, 6-0 match be interesting?


I was thinking the same thing.

Mr. Anon said...

"roundeye said...

One way or the other, it would be an awesome movie. Period piece: awesome tennis whites, shoddy old country club with the lot filled with giant old Cadillacs and Lincolns.

Who would play Riggs? Ben Stiller?

It would have to be played with a comic touch."

My vote would be for Geoffrey Rush.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Mac vs. Serena might be interesting - and I'm not convinced Mac would win.

As for other matchups, Connors at 40 played Martina at 35. She got one doubles alley and he got one serve. Connors won handily.

For details of this and other "Battles of the Sexes" see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sexes_%28tennis%29

Jahn Ghalt said...

I was learning tennis at 14 when Riggs/King went on. My only recollection was that King could approach to Riggs backhand and come in. Riggs could only hit a slice backhand (couldn't roll/drive it) which was easy pickings for BJK.

Anonymous said...

If you believe Billie Jean King's contention that Riggs clearly was trying to win, his highly-public refusal to train for the match starts to look like an obvious attempt at giving himself longer odds with the bookies, to improve the payday of everyone who bet on him. If he did indeed want to win (I'm not convinced), the plan appears to have backfired- he made himself so out-of-shape that he actually couldn't play. Personally, I'm more inclined to believe that he had his eye on the rematch- lose the first one, then get back in shape and clobber King easily for a big payday against long odds.

Regardless of what really happened, the only thing the match proved was that 1970s feminists were a bunch of fools for taking it seriously- if I had been a feminist in the '70s (perish the thought), I wouldn't have touched anything associated with Bobby Riggs with a 10-foot pole. A known hustler like Riggs would almost certainly do something to make everyone involved look stupid.