Here in Youngstown, Ohio, football is king. There is a great tradition at the high school, college (Jim Tressel won national championships at Y'town State before heading to Columbus), and professional level. But, if the press had a number 2 sport in this town, it would have to be boxing.
Yesterday, in the midst of the Black Friday news coverage, people talking about their Thanksgiving, and continued complaints about TSA security at airports, there was a small story in Yahoo Sports which has a lot of local people talking.
Former middleweight boxing champion Kelly Pavlik has been in the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., since Nov. 4 for treatment of a problem with alcohol, the fighter’s father, Mike Pavlik, told Yahoo! Sports on Friday. The 28-year-old slugger’s boxing career is in doubt, said co-manager Cameron Dunkin, who said, “I don’t know if he’ll ever fight again.”The article goes on to say that after Pavlik won the title, he didn't quite know how to deal with his new found fame.
“The kind of kid Kelly is, he doesn’t want to say no to anyone. It was kind of like the Mickey Mantle syndrome here. Everywhere he went, everyone wanted to buy the champ a beer. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone or say no and it wound up causing him a pretty serious problem.”Now, don't get me wrong, people are responsible for their own actions. However, in this town, successful sports figures are elevated to such a high pedestal, it's definitely understandable about how this situation played out.
What will be interesting for me to see now is how Youngstown, Ohio responds to news of this nature. Since he lost his title 6 months ago, there has not been too much local press on this guy. Has this town now abandoned this guy since he is no longer the champ? Does this town now consider him damaged goods since he is now in rehab?
C'mon Youngstown, you're better than that. This is the time to rally around this guy again, but not because he's fighting for a titie. Now, he's fighting for his life. His father says it best at the end of the article.
“My whole concern for him is for him is to get healthy and be a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good citizen and a respectable man,” Mike Pavlik said. “That’s what I want from him. We’re all supportive of that goal. As a father, it’s destroying me to see this. Here is somebody that God has shed His blessing on and he had everything right at his fingertips.In its heyday, Youngstown, Ohio was one of the leading steel towns in all of the world. Many local business and thought leaders are trying to write its comeback story. But, how nice would it be for the community to come together for one if its favorite sons to help him make a comeback of his own. We'll have to see if this community has the courage to do just that...