Cops and firefighters get in the ring for charity
It's called "Badges vs Bad Guys," a charitable event that pits local officials, including some high-ranking cops, against regular Joe's in the boxing ring.
About 15 matches -- all ages, genders and weights -- are on the card that begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Libertyville Sports Complex, Route 45 and Peterson Road in Libertyville. Organizer Larry Lentz said he's had this type of event in mind since he opened the Lake County Athletic & Boxing Club conditioning program at the Sports Complex about seven years ago.
Local luminaries include Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther and Mayor Steve Lentz (no relation), Grayslake Police Chief Phil Perlini, as well as local police officers and firefighters.
Nearly all 55 tables were sold out as of midweek. Larry Lentz said he hopes to raise $20,000 to fund travel to the national boxing competition for Junior Olympics athletes. Additional funds will go to at-risk MHS students who otherwise couldn't afford to join his program, he added.
"It benefits the Junior Olympics and it's also benefiting Mundelein High School," Lentz said. "They're going to get scholarships to my gym."
In addition, the Junior Olympics Wisconsin and Illinois regional finals boxing tournament will be 6:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Sports Complex. Cost is $30 for a two-day pass or $20 per day. The boxers are aged 8 to 16. Championship bouts for state champions aged 13-14 and 15-16 will be Sunday, but only winners in the latter division advance to the national tournament.
Lentz said the events are being held for the first time in Libertyville. More than 200 athletes will compete in the USA Boxing-sanctioned event.
But Friday's event has also attracted attention.
Curran will box Perlini in the second bout of the night in three, 1-minute rounds. Curran is one of those who immediately agreed to participate and helped get the ball rolling, Lentz said.
"It forces you to get in shape instead of sitting around all winter," Curran said. And what of his opponent?
"He looks like a brick house. His body is not soft," said Curran, who is a lot taller. "It might be interesting."
Perlini said he has never boxed, but has trained with Lentz since late January. He said he agreed to box because Lentz was going to provide free training for youth in Grayslake and Hainesville. Perlini joked that he didn't think he and Curran originally were to have faced each other, but were paired because their weight and "advanced age" were not able to be matched with others. Curran is 52 and Perlini is 53.
"I believe anything we can do to help kids make good choices is always worth while," Perlini said.