Page 53 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
P. 53

    Members of the CPD and CFD boxing teams pose for a photo at the end of the night.
Joelh Calixto, an officer in 025, emerges victorious in his bout.
awarded belts, for just participating in the event was a victory.
Alderman Nick Sposato, first respond- ers’ best friend in the city council, also presented belts. Alderman Ariel Reboy- ras, fresh off his win in a runoff election fueled by the support of Chicago cop- pers and firefighters, also greeted first responders at ringside all night.
The honored guests included family members of Marmolejo, Jimenez and fallen Firefighter Juan Bucio. They were recognized during a pre-event reception hosted by title sponsor Country Finan- cial, which also presented a donation of $25,000 during the opening ceremony.
The CPD boxing team has grown to more than 25 members. Many of them have joined after hearing about the ex- perience and wondering if they had the right stuff.
Joelh Calixto had done a little judo and Krav Maga at the academy, and when a colleague in 025 invited him to a prac- tice, it appealed to the attributes he has brought to the job: always pushing him- self, always working out. The camarade- rie of being part of the group kept him coming back.
“I put in all this training, all this work, really pushing myself,” explained Calix- to, who has been on the job for two years. “I wanted to see if it was all worth it. And it was worth it tonight.”
It was worth the months of condition- ing, strength training and boxing skills development the women and men of the CPD boxing team endured for this cause. For many of them, that time had to be fit in around working various shifts and having days off cancelled, as is often the case in the Department.
Miller, for example, works midnights in 005, so he would try and meet his fam- ily commitments, then go to the gym be- fore going to work.
“The resiliency, the resolve of these officers, I commend them on this,” Myl- es stated. “It takes courage to get in the ring in front of your peers and in front of these spectators. Whether we got the victory or we lost, the fact that we put ev-
erything out there and left everything in the ring, I’m happy.”
Bianchini confirmed that the camara- derie of being part of one of the Depart- ment’s sports teams motivates him to do all the conditioning. And it’s easy to un- derstand how sparring and training with each other brings officers closer.
Then, there’s the moment of stepping into the ring and knowing who you are fighting for that makes it all worth it.
“The fallen officers, that touched me to the heart,” Sanchez confided. “You want to fight for them, fight for the families to let them know we’re always going to be there, we’re always going to do it. Even if we can’t tell them in person, they’re always in our hearts. And that’s why we wanted to do it.”
Step into the ring with your boxing sisters and brothers for a moment. They indicated feeling a calm before the storm that drowned out the crowd. Thousands were standing and waving their arms, but the fighters didn’t see them.
“You have tunnel vision,” Sanchez added. “You see the crowd, but once you’re in there, you don’t see them. You just see the guy punching you and you just go back in force. It brings out the in- ner warrior.”
In his bout with Firefighter Nick Che- vas, Calixto landed his first punch that scored a standing eight-count. Appar- ently, there is nothing quite like the rush of such a moment.
“It just gives you that boost,” he de- scribed. “I was feeling goosebumps. It was amazing.”
Each boxer searched for words to de- scribe the feeling of being in the ring, of representing the Department and of go- ing all-in for the cause. But there really weren’t enough words.
“It’s something that you can’t describe, adrenaline you can’t describe,” Miller expressed. “You’re seeing who’s the best. That’s why it’s the Battle of the Badges.”
Ten battles on this night, to be exact, and each one contributed something memorable.
Chicago Police Officer Roberta Chapa throws a punch in her match against Firefighter Betsy Michna.
  3rd District Officer Fred Sanchez squares off against Firefighter Ivan Hernandez in the heavy- weight bout that Sanchez won.
 Title sponsor Country Financial presented a $25,000 donation to Battle of the Badges.

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