NewsLocal News


Battle of the Badges raises money for the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 00:47:33-04

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) — Boxing is a way of life at the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City. On any given day, 40 to 50 at-risk kids walk through the CYAC doors to put on the gloves, hit the heavy bag, and spar. The center is a safe place to call home for a few hours each day.

"We take kids from 8 to 18 with the idea to keep kids off the streets and give them a place to be, and boxing is a way we do that," says CYAC Executive Director Clemente Casillas.

CYAC is a non-profit, and to help keep the place open, it relies on its biggest fundraiser of the year, which is the Battle of the Badges. The event features members of law enforcement, first responders, and the military, going head to head in the boxing ring.

"This year it's going to be on the Midway and it's how we raise funds," says Casillas. "This is how we keep our doors open. The kids come to box, but we also have a tutorial program, where kids bring in their grades, so we can see how they are doing in school. Boxing is what brings them in, but education is a major part of our program."

Two of this year's Battle of the Badges fighters are a husband and wife, Ben and Jen Pitassi. Ben is a member of the U.S. NAVY Parachute Team and Jen is San Diego firefighter.

"I felt like it would be something fun to do together and it's for a good cause," says Ben.

Jen said she heard about the event from a fellow firefighter.

"I was told it was a boxing event and that it was a fundraiser. I told him I would love to try it out."

Neither Ben nor Jen have any experience in the boxing ring, but they are aware of the risks.

"It's the nose, that is the thing I want to protect the most. So yes I'm apprehensive," says Jen.

"At the end of the day you have to recognize that it's mostly ego," says Ben. "I'm mostly worried about going in there and losing in front of friends."

Battle of the Badges is all for a great cause, raising money for CYAC. But at the same time, these fighters want to win.

"Of course, you want to win, but at the end of the day it's a fun event," says Jen.