Report: Bobby Riggs threw legendary sex match to pay mafia gambling debts | Bob's Blitz

Report: Bobby Riggs threw legendary sex match to pay mafia gambling debts

Battle of the Sexes: Bobby Riggs v Billie Jean King. Yesterday, ESPN's Outside The Lines "revived past speculation that Riggs, 55 years old at the time, lost intentionally four months after the formerly high-ranking pro routed world No. 1 women's player Margaret Court."

Why? Mafia debts. FOX Sports adds:

The TV magazine's story was based in large part on interviews with Hal Shaw, a former assistant golf pro at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa, Fla., who said he overheard a late-night conversation between four alleged mob figures. Shaw said he remained silent for nearly four decades out of fear for his safety.

Shaw, who said he was working late in the pro shop, claims he secretly listened in as club member Frank Ragano, Santo Trafficante Jr. and Carlos Marcello met with a fourth man he did not recognize. Trafficante and Marcello, now deceased, were reputed to be powerful mob figures in Florida and New Orleans, respectively. Ragano was an attorney who represented Trafficante.

Shaw, now 79, said the conversation in late 1972 or early 1973 centered upon an arrangement to be worked out with Riggs, who owed more than $100,000 from lost wagers on sporting events.

Shaw said Ragano explained that Riggs "had the first match already in the works ... and the second match he knew would follow because of Billie Jean King's popularity and everything that it would be kind of a slam dunk to get her to play him bragging about beating Margaret Court." Shaw said Ragano mentioned an unidentified mob man in Chicago who would help engineer the fix.

"Mr. Ragano was emphatic," Shaw said. "Riggs had assured him that the fix would be in -- he would beat Margaret Court and then he would go in the tank" against King, but Riggs pledged he'd "make it appear that it was on the up and up."

In Shaw's account, Riggs' price for throwing the match against King was having his debt wiped out and possibly having money deposited into a British bank account for him later.

Decide for yourself.

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