The opening credits of The Fighter depicts brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky “Irish” Ward running down the streets of Lowell Massachusetts, greeting their friends with bonhomie, including a man with cerebral palsy who they hug and kiss and say “I love you, Ray. I love you.” (Though it would be considered culturally inappropriate to greet an able-bodied man in the same fashion, Ray doesn’t mind as he is Micky’s godson and favorite sparring partner in real life.)

Dicky and Micky pass Ray Greenhalge and father on the street and greet them both warmly.

Dicky and Micky are boxers and home-town heroes, though Dicky has been slowly falling from grace due to his addiction to crack. An HBO documentary that everyone thought would chronicle Dicky’s comeback instead turns out to be his downfall, and Micky must advance his boxing career without him.

Micky is not without some physical challenges of his own; repeated injuries to his hand (shown in the movie as the result of police brutality) necessitate a regimen of physical therapy and training. The movie does not depict the surgery Micky Ward underwent to correct the problems with his hand, where, at his own expense, bone was taken from his pelvis and used to strengthen and fuse the bones of his hand.

Ray and his aging father are seen ringside a couple of times later in the movie, and Ray seems to be moving and speaking more easily. The film doesn’t go into it, but as People magazine article Micky Ward: Fighting Spirit explains, perhaps that’s because the real-life Micky started foundation Team Micky Ward Charities to help disabled youngsters gain confidence through physical training and conditioning.

Based on the book Irish Thunder: The Hard Life & Times of Micky Ward.