No matter how tough you think you are. No matter how mentally sound you feel. No matter how focused and in control you may think you are – alcohol can, and given enough time, will eventually kick your butt! Those of you who have grown to know me know that I love a comeback story. I love stories where someone battles the ravages of alcoholism and returns to success. Kelly Pavlik is one of these stories.
Kelly Pavlik – Hometown Hero
A crazy sports fan my entire life I follow many sports on many continents. Who better to exemplify an epic battle with alcohol more than a boxer?
Pavlik, once the hero of Youngstown, Ohio, where he made his working-class family and neighbors proud by fighting his way to the top and becoming both the WBC and WBO Middleweight champion. He was on top of the world – fame and fortune were his oyster.
Loss in Ring Leads to Lost Sense of Purpose
Those of you who are boxing aficionados know that Bernard Hopkins is one tough hombre. It was Hopkins who gave Pavlik his first taste of defeat back in 2008 in a non-title bout. Two years later Pavlik had lost his titles to Sergio Martinez and from there the wheels came off the bus.
The fame and fortune Pavlik had gained from thousands of hours in the gym and dedication to his body, mind and sport were being tossed away. Pavlik, quite simply, was lost.
Knocked Down by Booze
Like many professional athletes who suffer a loss after feeling invincible, Pavlik did not cope well. His best friend became booze and both his personal and professional career suffered. Not to belittle other jobs, but alcoholism can affect a boxer’s professional career much more quickly that say a car salesman or office worker. It does not take long for the human body to lose its edge when not kept in shape.
Questioning himself and his ability, alcohol certainly did nothing to bring up his spirits. Pavlik had worked hard not only on his professional career, but his personal life as well. Married with two lovely, healthy children, Pavlik was the hero in Youngstown, a role model for kids and parents alike.
He never imagined his life could be sunk by alcohol. Who does, really?
Getting Up Off the Canvas
Like the good prize fighter he is, Pavlik lifted himself off the canvas and said the most important eight words of his life – “I am an alcoholic and I need help.” Help for Pavlik was the betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. He checked himself in about six months ago and has been sober ever since.
Back in the Ring
After more than a year out of the ring, Kelly Pavlik finally was back to doing what he loved most – boxing. On May 7th, he completed his comeback from alcoholism by fighting on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao/Sugar Shane Mosely fight.
After a slow start, Pavlik regained his form and beat the tar out of a determined Texan named Alfonso Lopez. In the end it was a unanimous decision – Kelly Pavlik had not only won the fight against Lopez (unanimously) but showed the world he could beat alcohol addiction as well.
Remember, alcohol is a drug and its use should be strictly controlled. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an alcohol problem please seek help. In addition to social network groups like Al-Anon, there in person and online alcohol awareness courses.