Mickey Ward

The Micky Ward Effect

I finally got around to watching the 2010 film The Fighter recently, having completely missed it twelve years ago. In my defense, I’m not the best at keeping up with Hollywood takes on fighters – they often don’t do them justice. But I am so glad I watched this one, and if you haven’t seen it in a while (or you’re like me and missed it the first time) I highly recommend adding it to your movie queue. It’s an excellent reminder of Micky Ward’s early boxing career and life before the epic fight trilogy with Arturo Gatti. The film actually leaves out the Ward and Gatti fights and the two boxers’ legendary friendship altogether, and understandably so. That story is its own movie – and maybe it’s in the making, which would be a real treat. But meanwhile, The Fighter focuses on Ward’s pre-glory days as a youth just trying to make it in boxing while dealing with family struggles, hardship, and betrayal. A classic underdog story, if you will. And that’s the part that piques my interest.

I’ve always had a fondness for underdogs, especially if they come from poor socio-economic backgrounds, or otherwise face a great deal of adversity. Their struggles make their success all the more glorious by contrast, and so naturally, they make for interesting characters -the stuff of which books and movies are made. Starting out winning and winning until you die is great, but it just doesn’t make an interesting story. “Irish” Micky Ward is the opposite of that. He had a terrible beginning in boxing. He lost every fight, over and over. He was humiliated and misused in terrible match-ups, and at one point he had enough and quit the ring for a while. When he scored his first real victory he must have felt the enormous satisfaction of all that he had worked so hard for. This fight-or-die mentality and gritty perseverance is what makes stories like his the most intriguing, and also the most enduring, especially in America. He may be called “Irish” Micky, but his story is American and self-made through and through.

There’s just something about fighting for what you really want and getting through difficult times that strengthen a person, and it is a strength that can’t be gained in a gym. It is a strength that has a profound effect on you and how you fight, and in turn, it impacts everyone around you. In boxing, this is a blessing. In life, it is a gift. I call it the Micky Ward effect.