NY's Bravest and Finest Square Off in Boxing Ring

SI Advance - October 11, 2009

by Stephen Hart

It was a split decision last night for Staten Island at the Battle of the Badges, the annual NYPD vs. FDNY amateur boxing event at Madison Square Garden's WaMu Theater.

Stapleton native and renowned boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas was honored at intermission for his charitable work through the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation. That includes his latest endeavor, coming to the financial aid of the Cops 'n' Kids boxing program.

Moments later, Rossville resident Lt. Ray Braine of the NYPD lost a three-round decision to the FDNY's Ryan Nordman in a light heavyweight fight -- part of a victorious evening for Boxing's Bravest over Boxing's Finest, as the FDNY rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win the card 7-5.

While Atlas recognizes this call to help is "different" than most of the other causes his foundation has aided, he stated that the work of Cops 'n' Kids, a program initiated by Tottenville resident and retired sergeant Pat Russo after city funding was cut to the Police Athletic League, is worth it.

"They take care of a lot of kids. They keep them off the streets and give them a haven," said Atlas, whose foundation will sponsor the latest Cops 'n' Kids boxing club to open soon in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

"Programs like this can be the difference between a kid making it and not making it," continued Atlas, whose annual Teddy Dinner will be Nov. 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield. "And I'm not talking about becoming a pro fighter; I'm talking about getting direction in their life, instead of winding up in jail or winding up dead."

Braine fought evenly through much of the first and third rounds but a solid second by Nordman proved to be the difference.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wish I would've won, but I gave 100 percent," said Braine, an 18-year veteran of the force, who currently works out of the NYPD's Office of Management and Budget in Manhattan.

"In the first round, I didn't press enough. Then in the second, he pressed me. He's a strong guy," noted Braine, who said he had fought Nordman in another slugfest four years ago. "In the third, I just let it all hang out.

"This was my Super Bowl. Unfortunately, I couldn't kick the winning field goal."

The Island's two representatives on the FDNY team -- Dongan Hills resident FF Brian McNicholas and FF Coleman McMillan of Mariners Harbor -- did not get to fight. Their scheduled opponents were injured in training, so their bouts were scratched.

"I'm very disappointed. The guy I was supposed to fight (Princeton Lasharde of the 75th Precinct) broke his foot," said McNicholas, who was to make his debut in the ring along with McMillan, whose slated opponent broke a bone in his hand. "It's an individual sport, but tonight, it's a team sport, too. And I'm looking for us to win."