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ESPN: Battle of the Sexes was a mob fix

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by LongTimeListener, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member


    Don Van Natta Jr. talked to a golf pro from Florida named Hal Shaw.

    Shaw's workroom was about 20 feet from the men, who sat at a circular table. Through the window to the darkened bag room door, he could see them, but they couldn't see him. Shaw says he was "petrified" as he tried to remain completely still, worrying that the men would find him lurking there. Then Shaw heard something he'd keep secret for the next 40 years: Bobby Riggs owed the gangsters more than $100,000 from lost sports bets, and he had a plan to pay it back.

    Shaw, now 79, told the story of what he saw and heard that Tampa night to a friend late last year for the first time. This spring, he told it to "Outside the Lines."

    The men, Shaw says, used an array of nicknames for Riggs -- "Riggsy," "BB," "Bobby Bolita." Ragano told the men that "Riggsy" was prepared to "set up two matches … against the two best women players in the world," Shaw says. "He mentioned Margaret Court -- and it's easy for me to remember that because one of my aunt's names was Margaret so that, you know, wasn't hard to remember -- and the second lady was Billie Jean King."

    Pretty wild story.
  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Was there THAT much action on the match?
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    That was a surprise to me too, but the story made it seem that there was. My reading of it is that Riggs was the overwhelming favorite, therefore the mobsters could jack up the odds to work in their favor knowing what the outcome would be.
  4. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    They made Bobby Riggs an offer he couldn't refuse.
  5. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I just don't know how that many people would wager any amount of money on Bobby Riggs. Interesting to note that the $100k prize (and amount Riggs owed gamblers) would be a half a mil today.
  6. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    I vaguely remember Dr. Z writing the same thing (sort of). He didn't see mobsters, but wrote the money placements were odd.
  7. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Gripping stuff.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    What money placements in such a match wouldn't be 'odd'?

    Is there any intelligent or logical way such a match could have been bet in the first place?
  9. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I read this the other day and found it really interesting. The Battle of the Sexes was before my time and I always figured one of the best women in her prime beat and old fart, not that big of a deal. I didn't even realize he'd crushed the No. 1 woman a few months before and was still a damn good player. I didn't know anything about Riggs really.

    The story didn't prove anything, but certainly makes you wonder. If he threw the match it really was a pretty ingenious plan. Tank your training more than the actual match and then everybody thinks you were just over confident.
  10. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    I vaguely remember this being on TV when I was a kid but I had no idea until I read this that Riggs had Court before he played King.
  11. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    trying to find the article in the Si vault....
  12. This ...

    A lot of circumstantial stuff, but nothing concrete or factual that could be considered a smoking gun. It's an interesting - albeit unprovable - theory.
    And I don't believe a word of it.
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