NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Did the Mafia pull the racket strings during that famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs?
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Tuesday evening, a new report has claimed the legendary battle of the sexes was not fair play, and that Bobby Riggs threw the match to pay off a mob debt.
The match in Ramona, Calif., on May 13, 1973, was the ultimate battle of the sexes. King ended up beating Riggs, but there are now claims Riggs threw the match to pay off an old gambling debt to the mafia.
Forty years later, fans at the 2013 U.S. Open were shocked by the accusation.
“Well I just don’t believe it,” tennis fan John Bollan said. “You know she beat him.”
“She was way too good for him,” a woman said.
The claims have been brought up by a man who says he witnessed the deal go down between Riggs and the mob at a golf club.
Riggs at the time apparently had a $100,000 debt.
“I’m just curious as to why it’s coming out now,” a man said.
“I thought Billie Jean handled him really easily,” added tennis fan Joan Jones. “I didn’t see anything with him throwing it at all.”
In an interview, King shot down the accusations calling the story “ridiculous.” Many fans felt the same way and said the message King’s victory sent is what matters.
“It showed that there’s room for women in every area, whether it’s sports, and it should be recognized,” said tennis fan Lenny Roth.
And four decades later, is there still rivalry among men and women?
“Well I think they’re both great; they play differently I mean, the top women couldn’t compare with the top men,” Jones said.
“Obviously men — even Serena (Williams) couldn’t beat a man,” Bollan said. “I don’t care what they say.”
“Women — we rule,” a woman said.
One person who will not be speaking out on this issue is Riggs, who died in 1995 at the age of 77.
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