The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite


“Jody Boring stands in the middle of a gymnasium as a group of inner-city boys laugh and chatter among themselves. Boring – a wide-framed man of average height – stands alone at the front of the crowd – his arms blanketed with tattoos. With the gym lights glowing on him, Boring feels his nerves begin to jitter.”

Jody Boring stands in the middle of a gymnasium as a group of inner-city boys laugh and chatter among themselves. Boring – a wide-framed man of average height – stands alone at the front of the crowd – his arms blanketed with tattoos. With the gym lights glowing on him, Boring feels his nerves begin to jitter.

He’s not used to talking in front of crowds.

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The noise emanating from the large group is only making it worse.

Hey, what’s up with that tattoo under your eye? one of the boys shouts.

Boring pauses and looks down, contemplating how to answer. His head rises after a few a seconds.

It means that I killed a man.

The room grows silent. The loud joking and teasing ends. Boring speaks the truth.

Boring connects with the kids in a way most mentors cannot. He was raised in the same environment and went through the same hardships.

When he was growing up, the 33-year-old Akron native walked the same streets as most of the boys he wants so desperately to help.

Today, Boring is the owner of Righteous Ink, a tattoo parlor he opened on Waterloo Road in South Akron in December. Business has been steady for him. It’s not like most tattoo shops, though.

Deep ink

Boring learned the art of tattooing during a stint in prison. He had always been fascinated by the art as a young boy, but fell in love with it in the joint, he said.

Years of struggling with addiction and violence stood between Boring and the day he opened his shop. Struggling through his past is what inspired him to pursue the dream.

It’s called Righteous Ink – where the experience is deeper than the ink, Boring explained with a smile. This place isn’t just about tattoos. There’s more to it.

Boring opens his shop freely to neighborhood kids who hang around. A lot of them are known for causing trouble. His landlord and neighbors don’t seem to like it much, Boring said.

Yet, he still reaches out, shows them respect and tries to have a positive impact on their lives.

I can relate to these kids, Boring said. If I don’t show them a better path than the one they’re on, then who’s going to?

As a result of his kindness, the teenagers in the neighborhood have been nothing but respectful to Boring and his establishment. Opening his shop to inner-city teens allows Boring to connect with them and be a role model.

They’ve grown up in an environment where they see that it is cool to do wrong, Boring explained. But in my shop, they see it’s cool to do good.

At Righteous Ink, there is no swearing. It’s the first of several rules posted at the shop. Boring also doesn’t allow alcohol or drugs to be brought onto his property. When a close friend tried using drugs in his parking lot, Boring stuck to the rules. His buddy is no longer permitted to enter the shop.

Every morning before they open up, Boring and employees Jeff Connor and David Bard (both recovering drug addicts) pray together and read from the book of Proverbs. The staff members at Righteous Ink treat each other more like family than like coworkers.

We’re all recovering addicts here, Boring said. But this shop is built on the principle of a redemptive love.

Less than a decade ago, Boring wasn’t sure if he knew what love was.

Street life

Boring grew up with a truck driver father and violent mother.

My dad was gone all the time … and my mom, as a result of her upbringing, was abusive, Boring said. My mom would whip us with doubled-over cable cord when she was upset. It would split you wide open.

I learned to hold the pain inside. I didn’t cry for about 10 years after that.

By the time Boring finished grade school, he had become rebellious and hostile, growing violent by the time he finished sixth grade. At the same time, he began experimenting with cigarettes, marijuana and beer. Not long after, huffing gasoline became his first steady addiction.

Violence, sex and drugs became who I was, Boring explained.

Boring was consistently running away from the violence he called home by the time he was 13. At 14, he stopped going home – staying with friends and moving from place to place, sometimes committing robberies to gain leverage for a place to stay.

He liked living free. As he grew older, he continued to enjoy and explore his freedom.

At 17, exploring that freedom earned Boring a juvenile life sentence. However, he was released shortly after he turned 18.

Less than a year later, he was looking at 25 to 50 years for rape and felonious assault. The woman next door had invited him over, but after he walked in, she changed her mind.

Who I was at the time, Boring said, then paused. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I had already made up mind.

It’s who I was.

But that was all about to change.

Road to rebirth

During Boring’s first day in Summit County Jail, while waiting for trial, Boring said he was approached by seven different men and each delivered the same bizarre message: God loves you and is concerned about you.

After the first guy, my appointed attorney, said it, I was mad, Boring said. Then another guy I didn’t know came up and said the same thing: ‘I think God wants you to know he is concerned about you.’

I told him I wasn’t trying to hear that.

But Boring continued to hear it for the rest of the day. A third man approached him with the same message – then a fourth and a fifth.

After the fifth guy, I started to get creeped out. My hair was standing up on my back.

Then two more came. Eventually, Boring accepted the message.

That day, Boring said he became a Christian. He had no idea exactly what it meant, but he couldn’t deny what he had experienced. The decision didn’t instantly make Boring a better person, though. He was in and out of prison for several years afterward.

But the decision ignited the start of a transformation, Boring said.

Making sense of it

Throughout his prison years, Boring studied scripture continuously. The scripture got under his skin – it changed him, he said. Boring fell in love with the principles of compassion and forgiveness, which he said are important to his beliefs.

When he got out, he had two main concerns – to provide for his family and to support himself without returning to a life of crime.

Boring’s pathway to living a life of legitimacy has been a long one, but he has had help along the way. When he returned to his old neighborhood, Boring found help in a new church – South Street Ministries.

Duane Crabbs, Boring’s pastor, met him five years ago in CFCF, a correctional center where Crabbs conducts a weekly bible study.

Boring connected with Crabbs very quickly.

People don’t need to hear sermons, they need to see them, Crabbs said.

Boring provides this sermon, and he is an example to people caught in the criminal underworld, Crabbs said.

Traditionally, people caught in the underworld don’t see a pathway to legitimacy. Jody is a model of that path.

Boring turned from his former lifestyle, but chose to return to his same friends and neighborhood. He wasn’t about to abandon them.

He lives in that world, but he’s not of it, Crabbs explained.

And that’s the principle behind Righteous Ink. A lot of people might be turned off by the markings that cover Boring’s body. They might turn away when
they learn of his violent and abusive past. But the people who need to hear his message the most – recovering addicts, abused kids from the street, violent angry teenagers – are attracted to Boring’s shop.

That’s who I’m able to reach.

As Boring delivered his message to the gymnasium full of rowdy teens, they sat quietly and listened respectfully. They saw a man who had struggled through poverty and yet was an encouraging influence.

When someone shows up to get a tattoo at Righteous Ink, Boring tries to be that influence.

After all is said and done, the experience is deeper than the ink.

” #1.1362142:3641220227.jpg:JODY3.jpg:Akron native, Jody Boring puts the finishing touches on a tattoo. Boring, 33, opened his shop, Righteous Ink in December after several years spent in and out of prison. Boring hopes to use his story of recovery to help local teens overcome poverty and addiction.:Kevin Curwin”

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