My husband, an admirer of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, suggested I write something about him, and his impending retirement. Now I only had paid fleeting attention to Ward’s career, due to the fact that he’s a neighbor of sorts, a native hero of Lowell’s Acre. Though I have personally been training in karate for the last five years, I’ve had little interest in boxing. OK, I’m not a huge sports fan anyway, but one would think that over time, I’d have developed some sort of interest in the events of the ring, but this wasn’t the case. So I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. But as I researched and read accounts of his fights, I began to learn a few things about boxing in general, and Micky Ward specifically.
Though Micky Ward has thoroughly proven himself to be a champion, (38W, 11L, 27KO’s) his success didn’t come from a natural boxing talent, but from continuous hard work. His opponent in his final fight will be Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, a boxer who, though younger and faster than Ward, is said to be much the same. Humble, respectful, and incredibly hard working. I know from experience that it can be frustrating to train with someone who seems to be so much better than I at a particular technique, but overall, I‘ve learned to let it go. Better to focus on smaller signs of improvement. But it still amazes me that from childhood on, someone like Ward and even Gatti can push themselves, even if their initial skill was shaky.
Perhaps in May 2002, it was that kind of drive that gave Arturo Gatti the power to get up after receiving the wrath of Ward’s brutal left body punch in the ninth round of their first fight. Micky Ward won that night. The following November, the two fought a rematch, and then it was Ward who needed that drive. In the third round, he took a right hit to his ear, which resulted in a punctured eardrum. His equilibrium was lost for the rest of the fight, but he kept going the full ten, and didn’t make things easy for Gatti who ended up winning fight #2. It’s interesting to note that both bouts were won by decision.
I mentioned Ward’s mighty left hook, which leads most to believe he’s a southpaw. But no, he’s right handed. He had severely injured his right hand a few years before, and had to then rely on his left. You could say that his left was strengthened by default. I know though, that it’s not that easy. When anyone, athlete or otherwise suffers a somewhat serious injury, it’s natural to want to just stop the activity that caused the injury in the first place. As the owner of two knee braces; one ankle brace; and one wrist brace, I have a small idea of what Ward puts himself through.
Part of my training is sparring. This is the closest I come to boxing, with the exception being that I can kick my opponent as well. But like many women in Martial Arts, I don’t particularly enjoy sparring. I know I’ve improved, but there is so much to remember: Keep your guard up - move your feet - breathe - keep your guard up - try combinations - and keep your guard up! I suppose, had I been watching boxing more often, I’d get some pointers. I know I’ll be watching Saturday night and I’ll be sending out a prayer, “Bail ó Dhia ort” - “The blessing of God on you”. And one more - ‘Keep your guard up Micky’.