If only Kelly Pavlik had paid attention to the trials and tribulations of Atty. Marc Dann, the late James Philomena, Maurice Clarett and James A. Traficant Jr.
It has been said that those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. And the history of the Mahoning Valley is replete with the infamous who fell from grace — through fault of their own and of the people around them.
Pavlik, the former world boxing champion who brought pride to this region when he was on top of the world, has checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic in California for treatment of alcohol addiction. When news of his affliction broke, area residents, who have followed his career since he burst on the national scene, were not surprised.
Sightings of Pavlik in various public places in the Valley became part of his persona. And the reports of his activities were often not complimentary.
Thus, after his father, Mike Pavlik Sr., revealed to Yahoo.com that the boxer was at the Betty Ford Clinic, the reaction from people who care was, “It’s about time.” Pavlik Sr. also let it be known that his son had spent time at the clinic in February.
But the path his life has taken since he grabbed the national and international boxing spotlight with his September 2007 WBC/WBO crown could have been quite different had he paid attention to what happened to other headliners of the Valley.
Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann’s fall from grace provides the most poignant example of that time-tested plea, “With friends like you who needs enemies?”
Democrat Dann’s victory in 2006 over Republican AG Betty Montgomery was, by any measure, a political shocker. He surrounded himself with individuals from the Valley who saw him as a meal ticket and were, therefore, unwilling to tell him “no.” Thus, when the attorney general lost his moral bearings, there was no one to warn him that he was risking his political career and his reputation with his frat-boy behavior.
Dann ultimately resigned in disgrace and his entire record of public service was wiped out.
Just as Pavlik ignored the lessons of the Marc Dann disaster, Dann ignored the lessons of the late James Philomena’s “justice for sale” tenure as Mahoning County prosecutor.
Philomena took office with all the promise of being one of the outstanding prosecutors in the history of Mahoning County. He was a leading criminal lawyer and had all the attributes of a successful politician.
But, he also had a flaw: He ignored his inner voice and allowed himself to be drawn into the heady life of the rich and famous.
No one around him was willing to tell him “no” when he crossed the straight and narrow. Instead, he let a disbarred lawyer, George Alexander, be his confidante.
Philomena wound up in prison.
Then there was one of the most talented football players to come out of the Mahoning Valley, Maurice Clarett, who went to Ohio State, played a key role in Buckeye’s national football championship and tumbled all the way down from the pinnacle of his career.
While he was responsible for his own undoing, there were those around him who obviously failed to tell him “no.”
The story of former congressman-turned-federal prisoner Traficant is the story of the dark side of the Mahoning Valley.
He surrounded himself with people who were willing to feed his ego just to enjoy the crumbs he tossed them. Not surprisingly, when he indulged in unlawful behavior, he was excused with the mantra, “Everybody does it.”
Traficant made himself larger than life, and there were many Valley residents willing to turn a blind eye to his flaws just to be in his good graces.
Had Pavlik contemplated his life as a world boxing champion using the histories of past headliners as a guide, he would have realized that he needed someone close to him to tell him “no.”
A case in point: His becoming a partner in a bar and restaurant in Struthers should have sent up red flags. A man with a drinking problem co-owning a bar? Someone should have stepped forward to tell Pavlik that such an endeavor was a bad idea.
If he is to rebuild his career after his stay at the Betty Ford Clinic, Pavlik may want to consider leaving the Mahoning Valley and surrounding himself with people who will stand up to him.