Police, politicians step into the boxing ring for charity

  • Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran was among the "badges" taking part in last year's "Badges vs Bad Guys" charity boxing matches at the Libertyville Sports Complex last year. The second edition of the event takes place Friday night to raise money for scholarships for at-risk youth.

    Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran was among the "badges" taking part in last year's "Badges vs Bad Guys" charity boxing matches at the Libertyville Sports Complex last year. The second edition of the event takes place Friday night to raise money for scholarships for at-risk youth. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2015

 
 
Updated 5/5/2016 10:28 AM

The boxing gym at the Libertyville Sports Complex will have a VIP feel Friday night for the second "Badges vs Bad Guys" charity event.

"It's business casual -- you feel like you're in Vegas when you dress up a little bit," said organizer Larry Lentz. "This is not like your typical boxing (match) when you go to a gym."

 

Lentz operates the Toughman sports conditioning program and the Lake County Athletic & Boxing Club at the Sports Complex. Last year, he debuted sanctioned matches pitting local officials against "regular Joes" to fund 20 scholarships for at-risk youth who otherwise couldn't afford to join his program.

He determined the best way to draw a crowd was to get local authorities -- police officers, firefighters and politicians -- in the ring. It worked.

"Being a mayor, people like to see you get beat up and knocked around," said Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley, one of this year's participants.

He learned about the event from Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz (no relation to the organizer), who fought last year.

"My wife thinks I'm crazy," said Motley, who at 66 admits to pushing the envelope. "I think it's a worthwhile cause."

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Before they are allowed in the ring, participants have to train with Larry Lentz or a certified coach. Motley said he has seen marked health benefits in the two months since he began training for two hours a day, four days a week.

"I lost 27 pounds. My blood pressure dropped," he said. "I'm actually looking forward to it."

This year, the event will showcase a new boxing gym with truss lights over the ring, a go-go dancer platform, bleachers and 20 ringside tables. Table seats are $65 and there also are 150 general admission seats available for $30 each. Doors open at 6 p.m. and bouts begin at 7 p.m. Call (847) 345-5666 or visit www.toughmancrosstraining.com/ for tickets or more information.

"We had over 70 tables sold at last year's event," Lentz said. "Our new location only can hold 20 tables, but (it) is probably the best amateur boxing show in the country."

Fifteen bouts are scheduled. Other participants include a 70-year old man who is the oldest registered boxer in Illinois; Libertyville mail carrier Jay Paschen fighting Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Bodenhagen; Art dealer Mike Harden, 46, versus plumber Tim Goss; and a women's match pitting the Golden Gloves champs in the 147-pound class from Chicago and Wisconsin.

The next show will be July 15 outdoors event at the Wauconda Rodeo. Lentz says he hopes to have spring, summer, fall and winter Badges vs Bad Guys events this year.

@dhmickzawislak

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