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Police Athletic League

Fostering Character in Chicago’s Youth
When given the chance to participate in a structured, loving environment, a child acquires the tools necessary to steer them in a positive direction. This helps to develop:


  • Self-esteem

  • Teamwork

  • Healthy exercise habits

  • Responsibility

  • Communication skills

  • Value of education & good homework habits

  • Positive interaction with law enforcement

  • Business skills

  • Discipline

Help Make a Difference

The ISCC/ PAL has made a positive impact on many lives and continues to do so, but this wouldn’t have been possible without your help! ISCC/ PAL believes that with the proper funding thousands more could be given the support they need to prepare for a successful future!

Fighting for a Fresh Start, The Chicago Tribune

Most of those in the largely male crowd of a couple hundred were standing. More than a few were drinking. A surprising number were smoking. A few were filled with bloodthirsty expectation. “Let’s get it on!” screamed one crew-cut man to no one in particular. “Let’s see some action.”

He was downstairs in one of the cavernous rooms of the sprawling entertainment complex known as 115 Bourbon Street, at 3359 W. 115th St. in south suburban Merrionette Park.

He and the others were awaiting a series of boxing matches to be held in the regulation-sized ring that towered over the floor, illuminated by almost blindingly bright lights.

In a large room upstairs (as seen in Osgood’s beautiful photo), there was plenty of action as young men, teenagers really, shadowboxed, skipped rope and otherwise prepared for their bouts under the concerned eyes and whispered counsel of parents, coaches or trainers.

You may not realize it, but boxing matches are a frequent and popular diversion around the area. They take place regularly in gymnasiums and in such larger venues as the Aragon, Cicero Stadium, Sabre Room and 115 Bourbon Street, where you can see for yourself on the third Wednesday of every month.

You might meet Martin McGarry who, when not working as a pipe fitter for union Local 597, runs McGarry’s Boxing Club on the Far South Side (and about whom you will read much more here later in the spring).

“The boxing scene here is very healthy,” said McGarry, a native of Ireland and, when he was younger, an accomplished boxer there and in England. “More people are getting involved. There are some very good amateur fighters here. Some of the kids in this room, maybe a few of them have thoughts of turning professional one day. But a lot do it for exercise or to learn how to protect themselves.”

The proceeds from the boxing matches on this night will benefit the Police Athletic League of Illinois’ First Chance Program. Jerry Elsner, the director of the ISCC/ PAL was standing ringside.

“Look, a kid can get in trouble a lot of ways,” he said. “Let’s say he’s at a party where the police find dope or he’s busted at a party for underage drinking. Well, that goes on his record and–this is the computer age–it stays there. But a kid gets in our program [see] and does what he needs to, the charges will be dropped.”

McGarry said, “This is a great program. A lot of kids get jammed up on something innocent. This enables them to get back on the right track. A lot of these at-risk kids get involved in boxing programs. But what I tell my kids is that they don’t have to fight competitively to gain great self-esteem and confidence . . . to get on the right track, to have a good life.”

Rick Kogan – Chicago Tribune

PAL offers a number of unique approaches to changing the lives of inner-city kids through athletic activities, donation drives, and mentoring groups. By creating a firm support base for kids, the ISCC is able to get them off the streets and teach them new skills while mentoring their hearts and minds. Some of these programs include:

  • Youth Boxing

  • Mexican and Western Dancing Groups

  • Affiliation with dozens of karate schools in Illinois

  • Shop with a Sheriff’s Athletic League Officer  for Christmas gifts

  • Back-to-School Fairs throughout the Chicagoland area offering: backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, dental checks and cleaning, posture checks along with many other fun giveaways

  • Providing hundreds of boxes of fresh foods for inner city deserving families on a weekly basis.

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