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January 1, 2005

Brutal Competition in Chicago

By Gregory Bresiger

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  • Brutal Competition in Chicago

Traders have a reputation for mental toughness - the ability to survive frequent volatility and demanding conditions. It might sometimes help, but physical toughness is not really a prerequisite of success on the desk. Still, here are three Archipelago pros one would never want to meet in a dark alley. Besides careers as trading support officials, Clancy Siko, 38, Paul Greenhaw, 39, and Robert Evans, 28, have something else in common:

All of them have laced up the gloves and entered the squared circle with one goal: putting an opponent on his nether regions.

These three Archipelago pros - who collectively have more than 30 years in the business - have enlisted in a noble cause. They've trained and boxed to raise money for the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago.

"Three years ago Jerry Putnam, our CEO, came into the trading room and said we were becoming a sponsor of the Mercy event. And the next day, they asked who would be willing to box," says Siko, who is based in the Chicago office. He decided to sign on. "It's a fabulous organization, assisting kids," Siko says.

The venerable institution has been a Windy City friend to needy children for over a century. Mercy Home says it provides, "out of home care in one of 14 residential programs for young men and women between the ages of 11 and 19." The Archipelago veterans not only box in three round matches for the kids, but they become very competitive. They don't just want to go the distance - they want to win. They battle in matches against other trading professionals at the annual Ringside for Mercy's Sake event.

Company Pride

While it is not exactly the Yankees and the Red Sox in game seven or Frazier against Ali for the title, there is more than a bit of company pride involved in these bouts. Archipelago traders are going against their counterparts from Mesirow Financial, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other marts. In part, there is pride because the executive chairman of the event, Jerry Putnam of Archipelago, operator of ArcaEx - a man known to have done more than a bit of verbal boxing - has well-developed competitive instincts.

"Last year, after I lost my decision, I got called into his office on Monday morning," Siko says. Greenhaw said he is happy he works for Archipelago in New York so he is not going to be called into Putnam's office after a match.

What is it about these amateur bouts that fire people up? Maybe there is something about trading professionals pummeling each other that is a good sell. The Ringside for Mercy's Sake, which just completed its 13th year, is an SRO event. It is attended by about 1,200 people at the Chicago Downtown Marriott. This year the black tie affair raised about $1 million.

Siko has been boxing for the last three years. He said he had never boxed before but he was not without experience. "I had three older brothers growing up."