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Ellsworth Airmen "Duke it Out" during Battle of the Badges competition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dylan Maher
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Gloves were flying as 10 Ellsworth Air Force Base active-duty Airmen went toe-to-toe with local law enforcement, fire department, correction officers, military retirees, and emergency medical personnel in front of more than 500 locals in a boxing ring during the Battle of the Badges competition in Box Elder, South Dakota, Jan 13, 2023.

The Battle of the Badges event was brought to life as a non-profit amateur boxing exhibition with the goal of raising awareness and support for local first responders. Airmen hailing from various squadrons around Ellsworth AFB competed to support the cause and test their abilities in the ring.

“We’ve been training extensively for this moment,” said Staff Sgt. Mondrell Mincey, 28th Logistic Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment noncommissioned officer. “The Battle of the Badges allows me to challenge myself as a boxer and compete for a great cause.”

Mincey is one of four Airmen from the 28th LRS competing in the event who recognized the chance to use his love for boxing as a means for raising awareness and integrating with local first responders.

“As police officers, firefighters, and Airmen, we all play our part in helping and protecting the community and I feel this event has brought us closer together.” said Mincey.

The boxing event consisted of 14 fights and 28 fighters, giving Airmen the opportunity to throw their hat into the ring, put up their dukes, and roll with the punches.

“There’s not a whole lot of fighting events in the area compared to back home.” said Airman First Class Michael Rieken, 28th Force Support Squadron ceremonial guardsman and boxing participant. “Being able to participate in the first ever Battle of the Badges for Box Elder and support the community means the world to me.”

After witnessing six Airmen win their match and the Rapid City Fire Department win the main event, Rieken recognized the significance of the event.

“I appreciate the coaches and mentors who helped me prepare both physically and mentally for this event,” said Rieken. “Events like these makes me feel well rounded as an athlete and Airman.”

Win or lose, the Battle of the Badges showcased comradery among military members and first responders, connecting those that serve.

“I hope this event genuinely improves our relationships with the local community,” said Mincey. “No matter how big or small, you’d be surprised on how much impact you make.”