A knockout ring girl skimpily clad in black, fishnets down her legs, strutted through a crowd of energized members of the Chicago Police and Fire Departments. No, this wasn’t the debut of a new uniform. Rather, it was the scene at the 10th annual Battle of the Badges, a charity boxing match between Chicago’s Police and Fire departments on Friday night.
The event’s proceeds went towards first responder charities, which primarily benefit the families of wounded and fallen police and firefighters. Just prior to the match’s start, Scottish bagpipes, an honor guard, and the national anthem solemnly honored those for whom the event was dedicated.
Immediately following the anthem’s close, the gravity of ceremony gave way to a more raucous pull. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, flanked by Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, came to the fore. Mayor Emanuel, who has in the past threatened drastic cuts on CPD and CFD budgets, was met with snarls from the audience members. Unfazed by the sea of jeers and occasional obscenities that engulfed him, Mayor Emanuel forged on with a drab verbal libation to the constabulary and anti-conflagatory volunteer boxers in his city’s employ.
From there the fights began. Each contest consisted of three three-minute rounds punctuated by one-minute breaks. As each pairing entered the ring, the audience would cleave into competing affiliations. With beers in hand and brouhaha in throat, the devotees rambunctiously cheered the combatants on, sporadically breaking into indistinguishable chants of “CFD!” and “CPD!”
The evening waned into night, the alcohol and testosterone-fueled audience boisterously bellowed on, and the public servants got correspondingly punch-drunk. As the boxers beat it out to the edge of doom, a trend appeared. The cops, who tended towards the bulky, gained an edge over the spry firefighters. Despite squalls of protest from the Fire Department supporters in the crowd, the bluecoats repeatedly triumphed in a feat of fortitude.
Camaraderie prevailed throughout the event, even under exceptional circumstances. In once case, a policeman with a ruthless roundhouse fought a plucky fireman. Despite the firefighter’s sprightliness, the cop’s ursine blows seemed destined for victory. To the audience’s indignant surprise, however, the now-delirious fireman was declared champion. The crowd launched a tempest at the referee, quelled only by the the vanquished officer of the peace lumbering over to the delirious victor, and, in a display of moving fraternity, bear-hugging the fireman. The Battle of the Badges concluded with gratitude towards the boxers and respect for the underlying cause–that throughout any circumstance, goodwill prevails among the public’s protectors.