Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bobby Riggs, but who doesn't?

The victory of Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs forty years ago was a triumph of feminism.  Like most triumphs of feminism, it was illusory, phony, and effectuated by a corrupt male. Indeed, this is true of most liberal/leftist tropes. Upon examination, most such things turn out to be contrived rather
than spontaneous, corrupt rather than honest, and, all too often, completely imaginary. In this, leftist triumphs are similar to right-wing outrages, most of which are, in like manner contrived, corrupt, and sometimes completely imaginary.

Taki Theodoracopulos tells us about the rigged Riggs reality:

Bobby Rigged

A man whose reputation rivals that of the Clintons’ for dishonesty and lies recently claimed overhearing a conversation by a gangster confirming that Bobby Riggs had thrown his match against Billie Jean King in the infamous Battle of the Sexes on September 20, 1973. (King won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.) According to the Clinton wannabe, Bobby was $100,000 in the hole to the Sopranos, and in order to extricate himself he told the hoods to bet on King, then threw the match thus saving his knees and possibly a cement coffin. It’s a good story that got the small-timer some publicity, but that’s all it is: a rumor that had made the rounds and one he tried to cash in on.

A friend of mine from San Antonio, Texas, Raymond Welder—“Raimondo” to some of us Italian opera lovers—knew of my tennis background and asked me about it. Let’s take it from the top. In the winter of 1956 I was twenty years old and on the Caribbean tennis circuit. Sometime in January I ended up in Miami, where I was befriended by Bobby Riggs in the courts of the Racquet Club, a hustlers’ paradise where good tennis players would spot points and games to not-so-good rich tennis players and gamble for large amounts. Bobby liked my game. I was a retriever who never missed, a sine qua non when playing lesser players for large stakes. Tennis is like backgammon—everyone who plays thinks they are better than they really are.

One of my first victims was a beautiful American Indian-Irish woman married to the great Hoagy Carmichael. She was a novice and I spotted her five games and 40-love each game for 100 dollars per set. One let cord or a double fault and it was over. I think I won something like ten sets in a row. I was set for life, plus I had fallen for her. Riggs then got me involved in other games, including gin rummy and poker. “You never bet unless you’ve got a lock” was his mantra. In other words, a lock was certain victory. I could understand that in tennis, where one knew what the opponent could or could not do, but in cards? Lady Luck does not always oblige. It soon became obvious that Riggs’s card games were rigged and outright cheating was going on (marked cards, peeks installed in the rooms next door, and so on).

I soon made my way up north, never to return to the fold. But during that winter I saw Bobby play tennis daily, and looking back there was no way a woman, no matter how much younger, could have beaten him. For starters, I saw Bobby play my friend Tony Vincent, a circuit veteran who had beaten the Wimbledon champion Lew Hoad the previous year in Monte Carlo. It was for a very small amount of money—no lock—but Bobby’s spins, slices, and touch came through. By 1956 he had been inactive for close to eight years and played only golf, an easy game to gamble on because of the handicapping. Riggs was scratch but played under a 14 handicap.

In 1957 Althea Gibson became the first black woman to win Wimbledon, making something like 75 dollars for her troubles plus room and board. Two months previously in Rome, an Italian player had suggested that Althea could easily beat me, as I was among the worst players on the tour. I used to regularly hit with Althea and we were friends. We made a one-dollar bet and played in a side court so no one would notice us. I won in straight sets. Mind you, it was on clay, my specialty.
(Keep reading HERE.)

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