New Yorkers know there is a rivalry, a polite rivalry, between the cops and firefighters.
OK, it's not always completely polite. At times, the Bravest and the Finest, both exemplary bands of public servants in eyes of NYFightblog, get scrappy with each other. I can guarantee there will be scrappiness on display at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night, when the 30th Annual Battle of the Badges takes place.
This cops vs. firefighters boxing match is a charitable endeavor, with proceeds benefiting the Atlas Cops & Kids Boxing Program and U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Greg Caron, who lost both legs and use of his right arm after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan.
I chatted with Dave Siev, who coaches the cops team, to get a better sense of what the Battle represents and what will go down at MSG. "There is a natural rivalry between cops and firemen," he said. "Like brothers ... it's a civil rivalry."
Siev boiled down the evening to this: "It's about department pride."
No big surprise, Siev favors the cops over the firefighters, and after two years of the FDNY winning the Battle, he thinks the cops can turn it around. "I think we're gonna win," he said. "We think we're tougher than them."
"They put out fires. They don't have to handle commotions. Everyone is happy to see a fireman at their house. They're not happy to see the police."
Cops, he reasons, have it tougher in comparison to FDNY. "It's not the '70s; there's not so many fires," Siev said. "So they're sitting in their house, learning to cook, working out. They're the pretty boys."
I wanted to give a bit of equal time to the FDNY, so I asked Siev to share some of the trash-talking his gang might expect to hear heading into the faceoff. "They say we eat doughnuts, we're fat," he offered.
Siev said that the fights won't show the skill that will be on display in, say, Las Vegas Saturday night, between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, but passion will be in full bloom. "It'll be like the intensity of the Hagler-Hearns fight, with one-one thousandth of the skill. Which is better sometimes. ... Sometimes you go to a boxing match and you want a fight to break out."
The crowd will be comprised of 50-50 cops and firefighter rooters, so the action in the stands can get pretty heated as well. The best element is that the proceeds go to charity, so guys like Siev can continue to fund the Atlas Cops and Kids gyms, which give a place for wayward youth to learn to box, focus their energies and perhaps their frustrations.
"We're training them to become men, not better fighters in the street," he said. "Some people look down their noses at boxing, and it's not for everybody. But for some, it's a great outlet, a lot of fun. I would not have gone to college without boxing. I was a little jerk. I discovered boxing and got humbled and enjoyed the hell out of it. We're not looking for the next great heavyweight champion. I could give two s---s about that."
Tickets for Battle of the Badges are currently for sale, priced at $65, $50, and $30, and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets or online at thegarden.com.
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