Person of the Week: Micky Ward Took His Hits In and Out of the Ring

VIDEO: Meet the real life boxer who inspired the Oscar-nominated film "The Fighter."
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In the ring he is "Irish" Micky Ward, at home in Massachusetts he is "The Pride of Lowell" and to Hollywood he is "The Fighter."

It took more than a few punches for the blue collar boxer to earn those nicknames, but it was Ward's fearless attitude and stubborn resolve that garnered him legions of fans.

"Sometimes it wasn't the smartest thing," Ward said. "That's the only way I know how to do it, is fight.

Boxing is a craft of hit and not-get-hit," he added. "With me, it was hit and get hit more."

This style coupled with success made Ward a hometown hero, giving the rough-and-tumble town of Lowell a source of hope.

"It was a tough city. ... It was a lot of trouble, years back," said Ward. "I guess surrounding towns think Lowell is crazy and stuff, but I don't think it's crazy. I'm just so used to it."

He's used to it because it's not only where he was raised as the second-youngest of nine kids but also where he resides, a local teamster paving roads and training the next generation of boxers in his gym.

"I'm still living in Lowell, still shoveling snow, still snow blowing snow," he said. "I'm not going to change unless I hit the mega millions."

Those humble roots and a love of boxing attracted another Massachusetts kid, Mark Wahlberg, to Ward's story.

For Wahlberg, the story became a passion project bordering on obsession. He built a boxing gym in his house and trained for five years, all for a role he wasn't sure he'd ever get to play.

"He didn't want to be an actor looking like a boxer, he wanted to look like an actual boxer," said Ward. "I trained him, showed him the different punches I throw."

Ward and his brother, Dicky Ecklund, helped Wahlberg get in shape for the film.

Ecklund, played by Christian Bale in the movie, was a successful boxer whose battle with drug addiction landed him in jail and pushed his close relationship with Ward to the brink.

"You ain't going to leave somebody because someone did something wrong. ... That ain't what it's all about," said Ward. "It's about love and it's about family. You don't just give up on somebody."

Mark Wahlberg Turns Micky Ward's Life Into the Movie, 'The Fighter'

No matter how long someone may be on the mat or how many times they fall, Ward refuses to count anyone out.

"Anybody can make it, you know," he said. "You have family problems, you can come back. ... You can go through things through life and come out OK as long as you stick with it. Just as long as you give an honest effort and you stick with it, anybody can do anything they want."

At 45 years old, with more than 50 fights under his belt including 14 defeats, Ward's attitude remains unshaken.

"As bad as it is, you got to keep going on, keep trying to get better or do better for yourselves," said Ward. "I didn't give up in the ring, so I'm not going to give up in my life."

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