Tag Archives: Micky Ward

‘Lowell’s Irish Micky Ward’

With all “The Fighter” buzz, this is a good time re-run Tom Sexton’s poem about the local boxing legend. One of the best things about a good poem is how it stands up to repeated readings or listenings. Maybe Tom should do an audio recording of his Lowell poems. People would enjoy hearing the poems in his voice.—PM


Lowell’s Irish Micky Ward


Round 2. Ward’s left eye is already cut,

but he keeps moving toward Arturo Gatti.

My wife’s gone to bed and turned out the light.

Gatti’s left hook sounds like a thunderclap.

I haven’t watched a fight in many years,

not since moving away from Lowell.

A Celtic Cross glistens on Ward’s shoulder.

I wince as he shakes off blow after blow.

He has my uncle Leo’s fighter’s face,

with features almost as flat as a stone.

Staggered by a right, he picks up the pace.

I want to see a hurt Gatti go down.

They fight to a draw. Closed eye for closed eye.

I go to bed shamefaced and stubbornly tribal.


—Tom Sexton (c) 2007, from “A Clock with No Hands” (Adastra Press)

Here’s My Review of ‘The Fighter’

Tonight, with my wife and two friends I saw “the movie” at the Showcase Cinemas, just a slapshot away from Micky Ward Circle. The film ended two hours ago and I’m still in a kind of shock from the hyper-realism on screen. Lowell appeared to be under a colossal magnifying glass. The film felt as much like a documentary as it did a drama, and is a family story more than a boxing movie. More than a family story, though—a cultural story about people and lives and aspirations that are common across a certain segment of the social spectrum. My immigrant roots are in that segment. The film bangs a gong for anyone who knows Lowell. You walk out of the Showcase Cinemas, drive out of the parking lot, and you are on the movie set. I suppose that must be how lots of people in Los Angeles or New York City feel about being in TV-land or movie-land. The locations are like the back of your hand.

Knowing the outcome of the real-life story didn’t dilute any of the impact of the screen story. The acting was extraordinary throughout. The casting was tremendous. The portrayals of George Ward and Officer O’Keefe (as himself) were outstanding. Melissa Leo as Alice Ward dominated her scenes, even when backed by the seven weird sisters. My favorite fight scene was Amy Adams’ smackdown of one of the sisters during the attempted home invasion or sibling intervention (choose one) on Christian Hill. Christian Bale deserves a prize for his work—just the physical aspect would be enough to win, never mind the talk. My favorite Lowell scene was Bale running across the bridge. And Mark Wahlberg holds the social cyclone all together as the steady, modest moral center of this fractured but winning parable.

I’ve worked with a lot of folklorists in my career. This film is a field day of deeply local popular culture in a post-industrial city. Speaking of which, the Industrial Revolution that some people like me have made so much of as part of Lowell’s revitalization is tossed off as a joke when it comes up in the notorious HBO documentary about “crack street.” The ending is more complex than someone might expect, mostly because of the inner life of the hero. Just when the viewer expects him to pull out of the tribal quicksand, he reaches back for what he knows best and finds some kind of middle ground or third way through his own will power. Humanity in many but not all of its shades is on display here. I’ve always said the whole world is in Lowell if you look hard enough. “The Fighter” is film art in peak condition. Let’s have more of it, more Lowell stories, more cinema visions, more movie art for more human good.

NYTimes Reviews ‘The Fighter’

Tonight’s NYT online includes a home-page positive review of “The Fighter”  by A. O. Scott in which the commentary goes on at length and includes observations about the portrayal of Lowell and the city’s place in American culture. Read the review here, and get the NYT if you want more.

It’s unfortunate that many people in the media are writing about the setting of this story as if one slice of the city’s society represented the urban experience here as a whole during the 1990s, when Lowell was already 15 years into its renaissance. That was the source of the controversy over the notorious HBO documentary back then, and the film would appear to rewind the tape. I will see it soon. Richard Howe, Sr., was Mayor then, I believe, and was strong in speaking out for a more balanced image of the city at the time of the HBO production. There’s no denying the problems in those years, or now, but more was and is going on.

Mickey O’Keefe, Mark Wahlberg, and Christian Bale (Web photo by Jojo Whildon/Paramount Pictures, courtesy of NYT)

Sticking fairly closely to the facts of Mr. Ward’s story, “The Fighter” also plants itself firmly in his native terrain of Lowell, Mass., immersing the viewer, especially in early scenes, in the sensorium of a hard-luck industrial town left to languish in the backwash of globalization. The voices of the citizens are angry, irreverent and profane. The light is flat and unlovely. You can almost smell the weariness and desperation rising off of the tar that Micky, in his day job as a road paver, spreads on streets lined with sagging three-decker houses and faded storefronts. A city with a distinguished place in American labor and literary history — it was the birthplace of Jack Kerouac — Lowell in the early 1990s, when “The Fighter” unfolds, is blighted by poverty, unemployment and the crack epidemic, which has claimed Micky’s half brother, Dicky Eklund, as a casualty.

More on Wahlberg & ‘The Fighter’

Today’s Globe and boston.com feature more coverage of “The Fighter” and actor Mark Wahlberg. Get the Globe if you want more after reading Lynda Gorov’s article.

Lowell, its architecture, its accent, and its hairstyles circa 1990, is in many ways another costar of “The Fighter.’’ To hear the brothers’ mother and sisters go at it is to be back in a specific time in a specific place. Russell says he encouraged everyone to follow Wahlberg’s lead in how far to take their talk, even locals like Kate O’Brien (Conan’s younger sister) in her film-acting debut as one of the hilariously foul-mouthed sisters.

‘The Fighter’ to Premiere in Lowell

Regular reader and contributor Patty Coffey sent this from the Sun’s breaking news site. Get the Sun if you value the reporting:

LOWELL — Roll out the red carpet.

After weeks of negotiations, Lowell has landed a premiere showing of the highly anticipated Micky Ward biopic The Fighter on Thursday, Dec. 9, one day before the movie hits theaters nationwide. . . .

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_16702259#ixzz16Fi7Tph1

Wahlberg & ‘The Fighter’ on 60 Minutes

Just watched the Mark Wahlberg segment on 60 Minutes, which served as a massive promotion of his movie “The Fighter,” which we all know is based on the experiences of Lowell’s living boxing legend Micky Ward and his family. He said Micky Ward was a local hero to him in the same category as Larry Bird. The 60 Minutes segment included footage shot in Lowell (outside and inside various locations). There was a glimpse of one of the huge UMass Lowell banners in one scene that I’d guess was the parking garage on East Campus because a green iron bridge was in the foreground (Ouellete Bridge/Aiken St Bridge). Wahlberg and co-star Christian Bale sparred in a side street off Cupples Square in another shot. Most of the segment dealt with Wahlberg’s rise to stardom, including a lot of attention paid to his delinquent youth in Dorchester and subsequent rise to prominence as rapper Marky Mark and beginning acting roles. Here’s the link to the preview on www.cbsnews.com

‘The Fighter’ Gets Oscar Mention (NYT)

Today’s NYTimes has an article about competition for best film of the year—the Oscar race. Mentioned in the middle of the story is ‘The Fighter’ from, basically, Lowell. Read the story here, and get the NYT if you appreciate the effort.

A more serious scramble may occur among a clutch of yet-to-be-released pictures that are heavily dependent on their performers and so will be vying for attention among the members of the academy’s powerful actors branch, its biggest voting bloc.

Those films include “Black Swan,” with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder; “127 Hours,” with James Franco; “The Fighter,” with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale; “True Grit,” with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon; and “How Do You Know,” with Jack Nicholson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.