Lornie Kuhle had no patience for nonsense when he was approached by an ESPN reporter proposing that his longtime friend and business partner, Bobby Riggs, intentionally threw his famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against Billie Jean King in 1973.
“I looked at [the reporter] and told him it was the most far-fetched story I’d every heard,” Kuhle said, according to FOX Sports. “It was a real match and he got beat. Bobby didn’t purposely throw the match — it’s demeaning to the match and it’s all complete [expletive].”
This weekend, ESPN’s Outside the Lines presented the claims of Hal Shaw, a former assistant gold pro at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa, Fla. Shaw claimed to have heard three men who were powerful in the mafia and a fourth man he did not recognize meeting around midnight in the pro shop. Their conversation, Shaw said, revolved around Riggs throwing the nationally televised match to pay off his debts to the mob.
“Riggs had assured [an attorney representing one of the mob bosses] that the fix would be in,” Shaw said. “He would beat Margaret Court and then he would go in the tank” when he played King.
Riggs defeated Court, then the world’s No. 1 women’s player, setting up a showdown with King at the Astrodome in Houston. King won in straight sets in a match that is considered a watershed moment in the women’s rights movement.
But Riggs’ buddy insists the story is a bunch of hogwash.
“It’s just complete [expletive],” Kuhle told ESPN. “I never heard anything so far-fetched as this guy in Tampa. I’d like to meet that guy sometime.”
Hat tip to FOXSports