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The Fighter (2010)
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo
based on boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his half-brother Dickie Eklund
Reel Face: Real Face:
Mark Wahlberg Fighter movie Mark Wahlberg

June 5, 1971
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
real Micky Ward Micky Ward
October 4, 1965
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Christian Bale The Fighter Christian Bale

January 30, 1974
Birthplace: Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
real Dickie Eklund Richard "Dickie" Eklund

May 9, 1957
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Amy Adams Fighter movie Amy Adams

August 20, 1974
Birthplace: Aviano, Italy
real Charlene Fleming Ward Charlene Fleming Ward
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
(Photo from the early 1990s, Courtesy Lowell Sun)
The Fighter Melissa Leo actress Melissa Leo

September 14, 1960
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
real Alice Ward Fighter Alice Ward
Jack McGee as George Ward father Jack McGee

Birthplace: South Bronx, New York, USA
real George Ward Micky's father George Ward
Cop Mickey O'Keefe as Himself Mickey O'Keefe
(as himself)

Birthplace: USA
Real Mickey O'Keefe Trainer Fighter Mickey O'Keefe
Birthplace: USA

I was very happy with it. Mark (Wahlberg) and Christian (Bale) did a hell of a job. I'm very proud of how they portrayed it. - Micky Ward (, December 9, 2010)

Questioning the Story:

High on Crack Street HBO Documentary
Did HBO really film a documentary about Dickie Eklund's addiction to crack cocaine?
Yes. In the movie, we see an HBO camera crew following Dickie. The Fighter true story reveals that this really happened, and it resulted in the HBO documentary High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, which aired in 1995. The film followed three longtime Lowell, Massachusetts residents, who exemplified the city's decline from a once thriving manufacturing center to a depressed community littered with empty factories, crack houses and addicts. Due to the success of The Fighter movie, the Dickie Eklund documentary High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell has been made available for purchase via Amazon.

Did Dickie really believe that the HBO documentary was going to be about his comeback?
Yes. When speaking about The Fighter true story during a Charlie Rose interview, director David O. Russell says that the real Dickie Eklund did believe that the documentary was going to be about his comeback. However, O. Russell also adds, "If he had stopped being a crack head, it would have stopped being that movie, which is also true. He could have made it a positive thing, and so they partly fooled him, but he also made his own bed."

Watch The Fighter Movie
Why was Dickie's name spelled "Dicky" in the movie?
The real Dickie Eklund asked that his name be spelled "Dicky" for the movie so that he could match his brother. The publicity materials for the movie also reflected this incorrect spelling, which resulted in many publications and online articles to unknowingly spell his name "Dicky" by mistake. His personal web site,, run by his 36-year-old daughter Kerry, reflects the movie's incorrect spelling as well. -

Did Dickie Eklund knock down Sugar Ray Leonard?
Although it's not definitively answered in the movie, Dickie did not knock down Sugar Ray Leonard. Dickie's fight against Sugar Ray Leonard was on July 18, 1978 at the Hynes Memorial Auditorium in Boston, Massachusetts. Leonard was undefeated (12-0) going
Dickie Eklund and First Wife Debbie
Dickie Eklund (left) smiles before
the Sugar Ray fight. His then wife
Debbie (right) cheers him on. The
two had a daughter together.
into the fight. During the ninth round, the fighters appeared to get tangled up and Leonard went down after Dickie accidentally stepped on (or behind) his foot while pushing him forward. The referee indicated that it was a trip and not a knockdown. Decide for yourself by watching the Watch Dickie Eklund Sugar Ray Knockdown Video Dickie Eklund vs. Sugar Ray Leonard Knockdown Clip. For years, Dickie bragged that he knocked down Sugar Ray. However, today Dickie admits, "No, I didn't knock him down. That was bullshit. He slipped." Dickie, who was himself knocked down twice during the fight, did manage to go the distance versus Leonard, who won by unanimous decision. More information about Dickie's life and boxing career can be found in former ESPN anchor Bob Halloran's Micky Ward biography titled Irish Thunder: The Hard Life & Times of Micky Ward.

Did the real Micky Ward get pulverized by a substitute fighter who weighed considerably more than him?
Yes. Like in the movie, on September 9, 1988 Micky had been scheduled to fight Saoul Mamby in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, Mamby was too sick with a fever for the fight doctor to allow him to enter the ring. With too much money to be lost by cancelling the fight, the matchmaker for the bout, Ron Katz, found a replacement, a recently released inmate who went by the name Mike "Machine Gun" Mungin.

Micky Ward Biography Irish Thunder
Mungin arrived weighing 154 pounds, eighteen pounds more than Micky's 134 and Mungin was solid muscle. As stated in Bob Halloran's book Irish Thunder, Micky's mom, Alice Ward, who was then also acting as his manager, could have talked a determined Micky out of the fight. However, she instead negotiated for a bigger payday, upping Micky's purse from fifteen thousand to seventeen thousand five hundred. As seen in the movie, The Fighter true story confirms that Micky took a beating during the match, which was eventually won by Mungin by unanimous decision. Mungin was left without a scratch while Ward had a badly bleeding nose, a cut over his left eye, and a deep gash high up on his left cheekbone just under his eye.

After the mismatched fight with Mike Mungin, did a well-known trainer really approach Micky and offer to help him right in front of Dickie?
Yes. It happened in the locker room after the fight. A well-known trainer from New Jersey by the name of Carmen Graziano approached Micky and gave Micky his business card as Dickie watched. - Irish Thunder

Does the real Micky Ward have a daughter?
Yes. The true story behind The Fighter movie confirms that Micky Ward has a daughter named Kasie, who was born on June 20, 1989. During Micky's more than two year retirement when he was not making much more than minimum wage as a prison guard, Kasie's mother Laurie took her daughter and left Micky. She moved north and began living with a man thirty years her senior. Laurie moving out made Micky determined to get back in the ring and succeed as a boxer. He quit his job at the prison, went back to paving roads, and began to plot his comeback. - Irish Thunder

Did Micky really meet Charlene in a bar?
No. In the movie, Micky meets Charlene (Amy Adams) in a bar where she works. Their onscreen meeting happens just prior to Micky's fight with Mike Mungin (which in real life happened in 1988, though no date is stated in the movie in order to condense the timeline). The Fighter real story reveals that Micky actually met Charlene Fleming more than a decade later through an acquaintance of his father. They didn't meet until around the time of the Neary fight in March of 2000 (the final fight depicted in the movie) (Irish Thunder). Micky does credit Charlene as being one of the people responsible for his overall success, "If it wasn't for her [Charlene] and Mickey [O'Keefe], I probably wouldn't be here. ... I know I wouldn't be here." (Vancouver Sun)
Charlene Fleming Girlfriend of Micky Ward See Video of Charlene and Micky After His 2003 Arturo Gatti Fight.

Was Micky's girlfriend Charlene really a former track star?
Yes. In The Fighter movie, Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams) states that she had been a standout track star in high school as a high jumper, and in a later scene we see her practicing her high jump with Micky (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Kasie (Caitlin Dwyer). In real life, Micky Ward's girlfriend Charlene Fleming was a Lowell Sun All-Star in the early 1990s as a high school track and field athlete. She had won many medals and like in the movie, she excelled as a high jumper. - Lowell Sun

Is the real Charlene Fleming happy with Amy Adams portrayal of her?
Not entirely. Actress Amy Adams, who had never met the real Charlene Fleming Ward prior to the movie's premiere, said during an interview, "She was very concerned about the lack of clothes that my character wears. She claimed she never wore that few clothes. She's a woman of few words, but she's awesome." - Live with Regis and Kelly

Dickie Eklund and Christian Bale
Dickie Eklund and Christian Bale at
The Fighter premiere in L.A.
Were the real Micky Ward and Dickie Eklund involved in the filming of The Fighter?
Yes. The true story behind The Fighter movie reveals that both Micky and Dickie acted as consultants on the film, which was shot over the course of 33 days in Lowell, MA in 2009. While the script was being written, Micky and Dickie temporarily moved into Mark Wahlberg's home in L.A. so they could coach both Wahlberg and actor Christian Bale in the boxing ring that Wahlberg had built at his home. Dickie also worked closely with Bale on the set in order to fine tune Bale's boxing skills, in addition to helping Bale create an authentic character. This included coaching Bale in Dickynese, which is the unique slang Dickie uses when speaking.
- Men's Journal

How accurate are the movie's fight scenes?
Despite being shot in just three days at the beginning of the film's 33 day shoot, the movie's fight scenes are impressively accurate. Director David O. Russel says that he shot the fight scenes alongside a crew from HBO using the same beta cams that HBO used to film fights back in 1990. Eight cameras were set up around the ring to film each scene, similar to the way HBO does it. O. Russel and the filmmakers cut and edited 79 hours of choreographed fight footage and then they overlaid the scenes with the actual fight commentary by Larry Merchant, Roy Jones Jr. and Jim Lampley. - Charlie Rose

Did a police officer really injure Micky Ward's hand like in the movie?
Yes, but the injury didn't happen exactly as the movie depicts it. It also happened on May 9, 1987, before Micky's mismatched fight with Mungin, not after it. Like in the movie, Micky Ward was arrested for interfering with the arrest of his brother Dickie. Unlike the film, the arrest did not stem from Dickie having just been caught in the act running a prostitution scheme. Prior to the arrest, Dickie had actually been inside the Cosmo club (Cosmopolitan Cafe on Market Street) with his brother. Dickie exited the club to
Real Micky Ward Boxer
Micky Ward as a young
fighter during the 1980s.
supposedly defend someone he knew who was getting beat up outside, only the cops say that instead of seeing Dickie helping the guy, when they arrived Dickie was punching and kicking him.

In the movie, a policeman cracks Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) on the hand with a nightstick when his hand is on the hood of a patrol car. However, during the actual scuffle outside the Cosmo club, Ward was pulling officers off his brother when his hands were cuffed behind his back and then hit repeatedly with a flashlight, breaking his left hand and bruising the right. The resulting injury would plague Ward throughout his career. During the arrest, the police had also split Ward's head wide open, which took seven stitches to fix. - Irish Thunder

Did a cop really yell, "He's a fighter, break his f@#king hand!" during Micky's arrest?
Yes, though it may not have been taken exactly word for word. Micky recalls that when the cops had him on the ground, he heard one cop yelling, "Break his f@#king hands! Break his f@#king hands!" Micky Ward's cousin, Mike Lutkus, who was there that night, says that as the cops were hitting Micky, someone observing yelled, "Hey, don't do that! That's Micky Ward." One of the cops yelled back, "F@#k Micky Ward," and another officer added, "Yeah, break his hands so he can't fight again." - Irish Thunder

Did the real Dickie Eklund run a prostitution scheme?
Yes. The scheme went down much like it did in the movie. Dickie would work with a prostitute who would be picked up by a John looking for a good time, then Dickie would come screeching up behind them with his high beams on, pretending he was a cop. He would then rob his frightened victim. Dickie also ran a similar scheme from one of several Grand Street apartments. A mark would come inside looking for a prostitute and Dickie would jump out of a closet with a shotgun, scare the man senseless and then steal his money. - Irish Thunder

Did the cops really bust Dickie as he was carrying out his prostitution scheme?
No. Unlike in The Fighter movie, a real police car did not pull up behind Dickie and catch him in the act as he was robbing a mark. In real life, Dickie was arrested after a man Dickie robbed went to the police (the man claimed he had stopped a few streets away to use a pay phone, only to be forced back into his car and taken to Grand Street where he was then robbed by Dickie and an accomplice). To evade the police, Dickie fled to his sister's house and hid in a closet. When the police arrived, Dickie's sister gave him up.
- Irish Thunder

Real Alice Ward mother
Dickie's mother, Alice
Ward, during her son's
better days in 1978.
How much time has Dickie Eklund spent in prison?
After having been arrested on several occasions for minor offenses, Dickie was incarcerated for the first time in 1986. He spent three months in the Billerica House of Correction for offenses that included hitting a police officer in the mouth and running; breaking a man's jaw and robbing him after the man tried to break up an argument Dickie was having with his sister Gail; and resisting arrest. Dickie was arrested at least once each year from 1986 to 1991 for minor offenses, such as drunk and disorderly conduct. Then in 1993, Dickie was arrested for robbing a man, for which he spent nearly four months in jail in Cambridge before his mother bailed him out. A few weeks later he was jailed again for attempting to commit armed robbery. He was bailed out once more, only to go right back to jail when he was caught attempting to rob a drug house. Prior to March 1995, Dickie Eklund had been arrested 27 times and had a rap sheet five pages long.

On March 20, 1995, Dickie was sentenced to eight years at MCI-Cedar Junction, the state's maximum security prison, for charges that included breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, masked armed robbery, kidnapping, and possession of a firearm without a license. These were the charges that stemmed from the prostitution scheme. He accepted a plea bargain and served a little over four years in prison. - Irish Thunder

Did Dickie remain clean after getting out of prison?
No. The Fighter movie ends with Micky Ward's title bout against Shea Neary on March 11, 2000. Prior to the closing credits, it is stated that "Dickie maintains his status as a local legend. He trains young boxers at his brother's gym." That is true, though the movie fails to mention Dickie's return to drugs and subsequent arrests. At the time of Micky's fight with Neary, Dickie had not been long out of prison and was still clean. In the joint, he was forced to stay clean for more than four years, and he remained clean and mostly sober for nearly five more years after he got out. However, by 2005, the former star of the High on Crack Street documentary was back reenacting his self-destructive onscreen role. He was using crack again. On July 2, 2006, Dickie was arrested and charged with possession of crack cocaine. - Irish Thunder

Micky Ward Cameo Fighter
The real Micky Ward appears in the
crowd after the comeback fight.
Does the real Micky Ward have a cameo in the movie?
Yes. The real Micky Ward, who was a consultant on the film, has at least one cameo. He can be seen in the crowd congratulating his onscreen counterpart, Mark Wahlberg, at the 1:11:55 mark, just after the character wins his first comeback fight against Hernandez. It should be noted that the real Micky Ward never fought a fighter named Hernandez, at least according to his boxing record ( Micky's first comeback fight after his approximate two and a half year retirement was on June 17, 1994 against a New York fighter named Luis Castillo at the Lowell Sheraton in Massachusetts (not at the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire like in the movie). The film is more than likely eluding to his first significant fight after being out for a few months due to hand surgery. That fight, which took place on July 16, 1999 (roughly nine months after Dickie Eklund got out of prison), was against Jermal Corbin at the Hampton Beach Casino (Irish Thunder).

Did the real Micky Ward really train for his comeback without the interference of his family?
Yes, but it wasn't as difficult of a decision as it's made out to be in the movie, because at the time, Dickie was in jail and Micky's father, George Ward, was on his way to prison as well for defrauding two elderly women. One was an eighty-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who he stole more than ninety thousand dollars from (her entire life savings).

"I took control of the second half of my career," Micky says in Bob Halloran's biography Irish Thunder. "I came back because I wanted to do it, not because of the pressure from Dickie fighting, or my family wanting me to fight. ... I did it because I wanted to." Though Micky's hand still nagged him, unlike in the movie, it wasn't the injury that he was recovering from. He had been laid up in bed for four months after an embarrassing but serious work related accident he suffered while paving roads. He jumped off a roller and landed on a metal pole that ripped a one-inch gash in his rear end and travelled four inches into his rectum, requiring emergency reconstructive surgery of his bowels. - Irish Thunder

Actor Frank Renzulli and real Sal LoNano
Actor Frank Renzulli (left) and the
real Sal LoNano (right).
Was Micky really managed by the owner of a cab company?
Yes. As confirmed by The Fighter true story, after Micky took control of his career and decided against letting his mother continue to manage him, he hooked up with Sal LoNano who was the owner of the Independent Taxi Company and J. J. Automotive. Micky asked Sal to manage him after Sal reviewed all of Micky's prior checks and discovered that $2,500 was unaccounted for that Micky didn't know about. Micky was looking for someone he could trust in addition to his new trainer Mickey O'Keefe (Irish Thunder).

Did the cop really step in to train Micky?
Yes. The cop, Mickey O'Keefe, had previously worked as Dickie's assistant in Micky's corner, which was his only experience with professional boxing. O'Keefe opened a gym, the Lowell Boxing Club, in a rough neighborhood in hopes of giving young people (whom he didn't charge a penny) a positive way to channel their energy. Looking for a place to train again, Micky began to frequent O'Keefe's gym and when O'Keefe heard Micky was thinking of a comeback, O'Keefe offered to train him. - Irish Thunder

In Bob Halloran's book Irish Thunder, Micky Ward said the following about training with Mickey O'Keefe, "I'm here because someone likes me for who I am. Someone who was with me from the beginning. Mickey O'Keefe. ... Mickey didn't want control. All he wanted was what was best for me. ... I know if it weren't for Mickey O'Keefe, there'd be no Micky Ward. People might not want to hear it, but it's the truth."

Does the cop, Mickey O'Keefe, portray himself in the film?
Yes. The real Mickey O'Keefe portrays himself in The Fighter movie. Similar to his character in the film, in real life O'Keefe is a sergeant for the Lowell Police Department in Massachusetts. He was also Ward's trainer and the owner of the Lowell Boxing Club. O'Keefe was hesitant at first to accept the part because he had no acting experience, but Mark Wahlberg encouraged him to take on the role ("'The Fighter' Comes Home", Lowell Sun, December 10, 2010).

How many siblings does Micky Ward have?
Micky Ward has eight siblings stemming from Alice Ward's two marriages. His seven sisters include 'Little Alice' Eklund, Cathy 'Pork' Eklund, Cindy 'Tar' Eklund, Donna Eklund Jaynes, Gail 'Red Dog' Eklund, Phyllis 'Beaver' Eklund and Sherri Ward. He has one male sibling, his half-brother Dickie Eklund. - IMDB

Conan O'Brien's siter Kate O'Brien
Conan O'Brien (left) and his sister
Kate O'Brien as Phyllis Eklund.
Is it true that Conan O'Brien's sister portrayed one of Micky's sisters in the movie?
Yes. Kate O'Brien, who is the real life sister of talk show host Conan O'Brien, portrayed Micky's sister Phyllis 'Beaver' Eklund. - IMDB

What did the real sisters think of their portrayal in the movie?
Micky Ward's sisters were not happy with the movie's portrayal of them as rude, unattractive, loud-mouthed scrappers. "Those women were ugly," says Micky's 47-year-old sister Alice Eklund. "I never had hair like that. And Cathy — Cathy was a poster girl in the 1980s when she was waiting tables in Florida." (Men's Journal) The Fighter's director, David O. Russell, admits that Ward's real life sisters were not impressed with their onscreen representations. "One sister walked out when we were screening it for them. I talked to the family about it, and they said 'One out of seven ain't bad.'" - WENN

Was the real Dickie Eklund happy with the way his family was portrayed?
No. A Men's Journal writer states that Dickie was upset over the way his sisters and mother were portrayed in the film. After attending a screening at the Paramount lot with Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg, Dickie got into Christian Bale's truck to head back to Bale's house. It was then that he started cursing at Bale over the way his sisters and mother were portrayed in the movie, which depicts them as shrill, drunken, angry women. He is, however, pleased with Bales depiction of him, despite being quoted at first as saying, "Micky looks like a million bucks and I look like a two dollar bill." - FOX 25 /

Was Micky's mother really present at the final fight depicted in the film, Micky Ward vs. Shea Neary?
No. The Fighter true story reveals that the filmmakers took this liberty for dramatic purposes. In real life, Alice Ward, Micky's mother, was not present at his fight against Shea "The Shamrock Express" Neary that took place on March 11, 2000 in Olympia, Kensington, London. Watch Micky Ward vs. Shea Neary Fight Video Watch the Final Round of the Ward vs. Neary Fight. The win gave Micky the WBU (World Boxing Union) Light Welterweight title. -

Is the gym shown in the film the real gym where Micky Ward trained?
Yes. Actor/executive producer Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell wanted to make sure that some of the details in the movie were authentic. The gym seen in the film is not a movie set. It is the real West End Gym in Lowell where Micky Ward trained.
- Movie Mom

Is it true that Brad Pitt was originally slated to star in The Fighter movie?
Yes. As Variety reported back in 2007, Brad Pitt had been slated to play the role of Dickie Eklund alongside Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter, which was then set to be directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream). Pitt himself was replacing Matt Damon, who had been Wahlberg's costar in The Departed and is also a fellow Boston native. Damon had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Then in 2008, both director Aronofsky and actor Brad Pitt dropped out of the film. Aronofsky left to make The Wrestler and Pitt bailed for unknown reasons. This opened the door for director David O. Russell and actor Christian Bale to step in, a move that resulted in Oscar gold for Bale.
- Variety

Whatever happened between Micky Ward and his girlfriend Charlene Fleming?
Just prior to the movie's credits, it is stated that "Micky married Charlene in 2005. They live in Lowell with his daughter Kasie." This is true. On May 27, 2005, Micky married Charlene at the Viva Las Vegas Chapel. "An Elvis impersonator sang," Micky remembered, "It was pretty cool." Together, Micky and Charlene settled down with four dogs and bought a tanning salon, Caribbean Sun Tanning, located on Middlesex Street in Lowell. - Irish Thunder

Is Micky close to his half-brother Dickie Eklund?
"We're close now," Micky Ward tells Men's Journal. "But, you know, we have to keep each other at arm's length sometimes. That's how big families are now and then."

How much money did Dickie Eklund make from The Fighter movie?
Dickie received $193,000 from Paramount in 2006 for the rights to his life story and to compensate him for future assistance as a consultant on the film. Dickie spent the money quickly and by the time the movie was released, Dickie was all but broke again and getting by mainly on what he made from the little training he does. - Men's Journal

Charlene Fleming, Dickie Eklund, Micky Ward
Micky's fiancée, Charlene Fleming, comforts
him after his final fight with Gatti in 2003, as
his brother Dickie Eklund looks on.
What is Micky Ward doing today?
As stated at the end of the film, Micky Ward went on to three epic fights with Arturo Gatti, resulting in his first seven-figure payday that totaled in excess of three million dollars. Ward won a majority decision in the first fight, while Gatti won the second fight and the third fight by unanimous decision. Following his third fight with Gatti on June 7, 2003, Ward hung up his gloves and retired from boxing. He went back to paving streets and parking lots in Lowell, not because he had to but because he wanted to work (Irish Thunder). (As of December 2010) Ward still lives in Lowell where he owns a gym, Micky's Corner, and trains kids. He is also part owner of an outdoor dek hockey rink, Greater Lowell Dek Hockey Center, and drives trucks for the Teamsters union, Local 25 in Boston (

Read Irish Thunder book Bob Halloran
Read Bob
Halloran's book
to learn more.
Where can I learn more about Micky Ward, his fights, and his brother Dickie Eklund?
Bob Halloran's book Irish Thunder is considered by many to be the definitive source on Micky Ward and his half-brother Dickie Eklund. Halloran chronicles "Irish" Micky Ward's life as a boxer, from his broken hand to his three legendary fights against Arturo Gatti (not in the film). Halloran intertwines detailed accounts of the fights with the story of Micky's personal life, including his brother Dickie's role as both his trainer and a crack addict. If you enjoyed the movie, the book offers much more insight by uncondensing the lives that were trimmed and compacted for the big screen.

Is it true that there is going to be a sequel to The Fighter?
In a March 2011 (Entertainment Weekly) interview, actor and producer Mark Wahlberg said the following with regard to a sequel, "...the big thing that Micky Ward was famous for was his three epic battles with Arturo Gatti. So we’re talking about possibly taking one more run at it." He stressed that it would include much of the same cast, but that it would only be one more film, not five or six Fighters like Rocky. Wahlberg says that Micky and Dickie are both thrilled at the idea of a sequel, "I just keep getting the phone calls," said Wahlberg. "From Micky... Saying, 'Make sure you get it done.'"

The Fighter Interviews & Related Video

Watch interviews and fight video exploring the true story behind The Fighter movie. Highlights include video of the controversial Dickie Eklund vs. Sugar Ray Leonard knockdown (trip) and Micky Ward interviews.