Jack Kramer vs. Bobby Riggs
This poster advertises the Tennis World Championship Title Match of 1948 in Portland, Oregon in the Portland Armory. It was one of 89 matches played over several months on a nationwide touring competition between Jack Kramer (1921-2009) — reigning “World Amateur Champion,” although he had turned pro in November 1947 — and Bobby Riggs (1918-1995), then World Professional Champion. A match between Australian Champion Dinny Pails and Pancho Segura, “So. America’s No. 1 Player,” was also featured. The poster is printed in an eye-catching combination of green, orange and blue, with photographs of Kramer and Riggs in action superimposed on an orange background.
The Kramer vs. Riggs championship tour kicked off in December 1947 at Madison Square Garden. During the first few weeks, Riggs dominated, but Kramer soon realized he had to change his strategy, and once he started coming to the net more often, he won 56 of the last 63 matches, ultimately racking up 69 victories to Riggs’ 20.
Pancho Gonzales vs. Jack Kramer
This poster promotes a 1949 World Championship Tennis tour match in Chicago between Pancho Gonzales (1928-1995), U.S. Amateur Champion, and Jack Kramer, who was now the World’s Professional Champion. The secondary match was Frankie Parker, “Former United States Champion” vs. Bobby Riggs, “National Professional Champion.” The poster is printed in bright yellow, orange and black, with photographs of Gonzales and Kramer superimposed on a yellow background. Gonzales was only 21, and was soundly trounced by Kramer, but Gonzales later matured into one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs and Pancho Gonzales are all important figures in the history of U.S. and international men’s tennis. All were leading players for many years during the 1940s and 1950s. Kramer and Riggs faced each other in the U.S. Pro match of 1948 and the Wembley Pro match of 1949 (Kramer won both times). All together, Kramer won six Grand Slam Singles titles and seven Grand Slam doubles titles between 1946 and 1950, and was on the winning Davis Cup team in 1946 and 1947. After retiring from play in 1954, he became an entrepreneurial promoter of professional tours and a key advocate for the establishment of the modern men’s Open Tennis, which was officially approved by the International Tennis Federation in 1968. In 1958, Sports Illustrated published a profile that described Kramer as a “flamboyant” promoter who had built a “lean, smooth operation” and become rich in the process. He co-founded and served as the first executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals in 1972.
Pancho Gonzales was not only one of the all-time great tennis players, but made a list of 20 notable athletes of the 20th century in a 1999 Sports Illustrated article. He set an all-time record of eight successive years ranked number one in the world (1952-60) and winning 17 Major singles titles including 15 Pro Slams and two Grand Slams over his career. Gonzales so dominated the men’s game, that had he played in the Open era, when pros were no longer excluded from Grand Slams, he undoubtedly would have retired with more Grand Slam titles. Even at age 40, he made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
Bobby Riggs was also a world champion player, as an amateur in 1939 and as a professional in 1946 and 1947. He won eight Grand Slam singles and three Grand Slam doubles tournaments between 1939 and 1949. A colorful character, Riggs became famous as a gambler and tennis showman after retiring from the pro tour. The most notorious events were two “Battle of the Sexes” matches he organized in 1973, in which the 55 year-old Riggs claimed that even at his advanced age, he could beat the top female players. After he beat 30-year-old #1 woman’s player Margaret Court, he challenged Billie Jean King, for a highly publicized match in the Houston Astrodome, which was played according to the rules of the men’s game. King beat Riggs decisively.
Condition: Printed paper mounted to cardboard as issued. Generally very good overall with the usual overall light toning, wear handling. Some greater wear, chipping, tears in margins, all professionally restored.
“Bobby Riggs.” Wikipedia. 25 April 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Riggs (3 May 2016).
“Jack Kramer.” Wikipedia. 16 March 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kramer (3 May 2016).
“Pancho Gonzales.” Wikipedia. 10 April 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Gonzales (3 May 2016).
Phelan, Dick. “The Small Green Empire of Jack Kramer.” Sports Illustrated. 24 February 1958. Online at http://www.si.com/vault/1958/02/24/571808/the-small-green-empire-of-jack-kramer (3 May 2016).