Former ball boy remembers Battle of the Sexes

Bobby Riggs signed a certificate of merit for a Houston teen who was randomly chosen to be a ball boy for the match. Years later, the teen learned that he earned the job.

HOUSTON - Four decades ago, history invaded the Astrodome.

Six-time women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, a former world No. 1 who bragged he could beat any woman in the Battle of the Sexes. That same day, Riggs signed a certificate of merit for a Houston teen who was randomly chosen to be a ball boy for the match.  

Years later, the teen learned that he earned the job.

Nicholas Stephens is now a lawyer. He also takes great care of his memento from the match. Forty-three years ago, he was told Riggs pulled Stephens name out a hat to work in front of national TV and 30,000 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a tennis match.

However, years later, Stephens discovered organizers staged his role.

“Tim Heckler organized a tennis tournament with some top boys and girls in the city, and they played the tournament, and you had top in your category to be on the court,” Stephens said. “So there was a little competition there, and there was a little weed out. I was able to top (my division) so I got on the court.”

Like many others, Stephens wonders if Riggs threw the historic match for money. Either way, he’s happy King scored the win for women, history and the teen who now knows his place at her feet was earned.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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