“Irish” Micky Ward is a tough fighter with a humble outlook, whose life was portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the Oscar-nominated 2010 biopic, The Fighter. The Lowell, Massachusetts native is a retired junior welterweight boxer who holds a World Boxing Union championship. His family traces their Irish heritage back to Co. Cork.
Before turning professional in 1985, Ward was a three-time New England Golden Gloves champion. He ended his first year as a pro with 14 undefeated fights. Upon losing four consecutive fights, Ward took a break from boxing in 1990. A few years later, his older half-brother and trainer, Dickie Eklund, convinced Ward to take up the sport again.
Ward continued to have success in his career upon his return. He won championship fights and became a WBU Light Welterweight Champion in 2000. A 2001 ten-round fight against Emanuel Burton became The Ring magazine's Fight of the Year.
Ward is best known for a series of three fights against Arturo Gatti. He won the first fight in May 2001 after dropping Gatti in the ninth round with a left hook. The match was named as Fight of the Year for 2002 by The Ring, the “Fight of the Century” by boxing fans and writers, and the ninth round of the fight was named the “Round of the Century” by the co-host of the match, which was broadcast on HBO. In two following rematches, the battles between the two were close, but Gatti won. The third match, which sent both competitors to the hospital, was named Fight of the Year for 2003.
After a 15-year professional career, Ward retired in 2003 with a 38-13 record and 27 knockouts. He now runs a gym in Lowell and is the part owner of an outdoor hockey rink. This is Ward’s third time being honored in Irish America’s Top 100.
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