Joe Birkett
Chicago Golden Gloves Champion, Former DuPage County State’s Attorney & current Illinois Appellate Court Justice

Watch his long-form video testimonial here via YouTube/ChicagoGoldenGloves

Our next Chicago Golden Gloves' Titan is the other elected official who doesn’t get booed when he steps into the ring, Illinois Appellate Court Justice and former DuPage County State’s Attorney, Joe Birkett.

Joe’s dad Ray was a Central Illinois Golden Gloves champ and Navy boxer who served during the war. From his earliest memories, Joe was throwing punches into his father’s hands, tagging along, and eventually training at the CYO gym where his dad was training fighters. With 10 kids in the Birkett family, this time at the gym was special because boxing was something only he and his dad shared.

When Joe was 13, his dad passed suddenly but Joe continued to train, determined to win the Golden Gloves, just like his dad.

At 17, while still in high school, he was ready to win his title and to this day, he remembers it like it was yesterday. In the championship bout, Joe faced a very tough Edwin Santiago of the South Side. In what he calls a dream come true, Joe’s hand was raised. He was a Chicago Golden Gloves champion. Just like his dad. In the audience that night, his girlfriend Patty, now his wife of 46 years now.

He fought amateur for a few more years while he was in college and law school, being coached by the late, great Pat Lacassa. Pat’s team was full of colorful fighters from all walks of life who went on to became judges, cops, firemen, successful businessmen and one Olympian, Lee Roy Murphy. “Thank god I never had to fight him.”

In 1981, Joe graduated from law school and was looking for a job when his father-in-law took a look at Joe’s resume remarking that Joe should add his football accomplishments and Chicago Golden Gloves title.

Joe sat in the vestibule at the DuPage County State’s office waiting for the head of the Criminal Division to find time to interview him. Joe was ready but when he finally sat down with him, all the man wanted to talk about was sports. And Joe’s resume said champion.

“Chicago Golden Gloves champion opened doors for me,” Joe said.

And with that, Joe gave up fighting in the ring, and started fighting for the people.

From 1981 - 1996, Joe tried more than 100 felony cases to verdict and served as Chief of the Criminal Division for five years. In 1996, he was elected DuPage County State’s Attorney for the first of four terms.

In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously appointed him to the Second District Appellate Court.

Today, Birkett is the author of more than 100 laws that were enacted by the Illinois General Assembly.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the ring, Chicago Golden Gloves champion and recipient of the Chicago Golden Gloves Titan award, Illinois Appellate Court Justice, Joe Birkett.