One of the year’s best films is “The Fighter,” with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale as boxing brothers Micky Ward and Dickie Eklund and Melissa Leo as their mother, Alice. Micky and Dickie (who asked that his name be spelled “Dicky” in the movie, so he could match his brother) grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, a once-thriving mill town that fell on hard times when the textile business moved to the South. Dickie became a boxer who was referred to as “The Pride of Lowell.” He was Micky’s hero. But by the time Micky, the son of Alice’s second husband, was old enough to box, Dickie was a crack addict. The man who once knocked down boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard was featured in an HBO documentary called High on Crack Street. The movie is the story of the conflicts Micky faced as he had to decide whether to go with an outside manager who would pay him for training and take him away from Lowell or stay with his family, using Alice as his manager and Dickie as his trainer.
This project was a long-time dream for Mark Wahlberg, and he and director David O. Russell made sure that some of the details were authentic. The gym in the film is not a movie set; it is the real place where Ward trained and still trains. One of his cornermen, a police officer named Mickey O’Keefe, is played in the film by O’Keefe himself.
But, as with any feature film, there is some dramatic license in the characters and events in order to turn the messiness of real life into a story that can fit into two hours. For more information about the real story, check out The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward and “Fighter” More Fiction Than Fact. Here’s a look at the real Micky and Dickie.