MUSKEGON – Michael Lynch looks more like a professional fighter than a CEO, with tattoos on his fingers and his neck, and a stocky build best suited for the ring.
However, his attire would say otherwise, and he came dressed in what looked to be a tailored navy blue suit on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Lynch was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Opiate Summit held at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Muskegon Downtown, 939 3rd St.
At the free event Lynch shared his story of growing up in Los Angeles, spending most of his youth getting into trouble, doing drugs, and spending time behind bars to a group of Muskegon County health and addiction specialists, and residents.
It was a tale about redemption, and eventually finding success. The first time he found success came from a series of videos he produced in the early 2000s under the title Felony Fights.
Filmed in Mexico, these videos featured rough and tumble felons doing battle with one another. You can find many of these fights uploaded to websites like YouTube, but at the height of the franchise’s success the DVDs were being sold in places like Best Buy and Sam Goody.
“I came up with this idea while I was in prison, an entertainment business. I created a film project around things I knew how to do. It was around fighting, and I was really into the gang stuff, fights and all of that,” said Lynch.
“So what I did is a film it and put it on tape. The first quarter I got it into distribution. In its first quarter it hit bestselling in Best Buy, Sam Goody and Tower [Records].”
However, that success wouldn’t last forever, and Lynch eventually found himself behind bars again.
“It (Felony Fights) still didn’t fix that hole, and what ended up happening was having property and prestige for a couple of years. I was successful at using,” said Lynch.
“The crazier I was on film the more money I made. I went on a tear, and ended up surrounding myself with the same kind of people. They weren’t positive people, but they looked a little different because they were from Hollywood.”
The crime, he said, that landed him back in prison – punching a cop. He showed up to a friends day in court drunk, in possession of cocaine, and when the metal detectors went off he started swinging.
It was on the recommendation of his lawyer, who had also been an addict, that he enroll in a 12-step program. His lawyer was Richard Pintal, a Michigan native.
Pintal is now deceased.
“This is a very special place for me. It is my first time being out here, and there is a man named Richard Pintal that is from here. He was born and raised here, and is an amazing human being that came into my life and rescued me from the depths of hell.
“He was a criminal attorney out there on the west coast. More importantly he was a man with a mission to serve, a mission to help people. He helped me along this journey, and taught me the way he had gone through it.”
Lynch said he felt like he was in a cult when he first started his treatment, and eventually got kicked out. But when he finally got out of prison he gave 12-steps another shot.
He managed to find hope, and a sense of purpose, when he received custody over his estranged daughter.
Starting from scratch he started several new businesses that included a mixed martial arts fighting promotion, tattoo parlor, vape shop and a sober living facility.
Lynch’s invitation to speak at the Opiate Summit came from the Fresh Coast Alliance, a criminal re-entry program that works to keep people from relapsing on drugs and making the same mistakes that landed them in prison. He said despite his connection to Pintal, the call to come to Muskegon had been a coincidence.
Stairway Recovery Homes is the name of Lynch’s sober living facilities. It uses the 12-step program. Residents living at the facility work through three phases for recovery.
These phases focus on building necessary skills that addicts will need to prevent their relapse, but it also helps them create a resume, and learn financial literacy.
During his speech Lynch talked about addicts needing to find purpose so they wouldn’t relapse, and that the worst thing a person could do for someone addicted to drugs is to cut them off and ignore them.
He said he likes to employ former drug addicts and felons at his other businesses, believing it helps to give them purpose, and a reason not to go back to using drugs.
While in Michigan, Lynch has been observing the Fresh Coast Alliance and what they are doing for the county. He said he was impressed.
According to the Fresh Coast Alliance website the organization works on building life skills for former felons and addicts, and helps them to find jobs.