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Allegations King-Riggs match a mafia fix

Wednesday 28 Aug 2013 6:11 p.m.

The US Open is played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows, New York.

King is a former world number one who battled for gender equality, and back in September 1973, as a 29-year-old, she famously beat former Wimbledon champion 55-year-old Bobby Riggs in the match dubbed the Battle of the Sexes.

But there are fresh allegations it was a mafia fix.

Almost 40 years since the self-proclaimed chauvinist pig Riggs took to the court, a former golf shop assistant says he overheard a conversation between mafia bosses nine months before it was played.

"He would make it look and appear like he is trying his best, but Billie Jean King is just overwhelming him," says witness Hal Shaw.

According to Shaw, Riggs allegedly owed the mob more than $100,000 in gambling debts and was told to name his price to throw the match.

"Ragano said he asked for his debt to be erased and he's also asked for a certain amount of money, which is to be discussed later and is to be put in a bank account for him in England," says Shaw.

"I would bet my life that Bobby never had that discussion with them," says King. "Maybe they had that discussion with themselves because they are mobsters, but that's not Bobby."

Riggs, who beat the higher-ranked Margaret Court only months earlier, always denied any fix right up to his death in 1995.

"I'm usually very good in a clutch match," says King.

The answer to whether he took a dive may never truly be known.

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