Boxing

Micky Ward Is One of the Toughest Boxers of All Time but He’s No Match for CTE

Micky Ward was one of the biggest names in the game for a generation of boxing fans. The Lowell, Massachusetts native fought for nearly two decades and developed a reputation due to his inauspicious ability to absorb punches without falling down. Now years removed from his boxing career, Ward is reaping the pain that a life fighting entails; CTE is beginning to wear on his body and mind.

Micky Ward’s career

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A super light fighter, Ward wasn’t known for his brawn, nor were his opponents, reports BoxRec. The lighter divisions rely on speed and quickness just as much as they rely on strength. Ward began to make a name for himself in the early eighties as a teenager. Still, it was a fight against David Morin in 1985 that officially put him on the radar of fans. 

Ward couldn’t lose. He debuted with a fight against David Morin that took place in a skating ring in 1985. He won on a technical knockout and did not look back. From Greg Young to Ken Willis and Jesus Carlos Velez, Ward fought other up-and-comers as a member of the undercard but gained a following with each ensuing fight

His first loss came at the hands of Edwin Curet in a split decision in Atlantic City. After winning four more fights afterword, Ward lost two of his next three. He no longer displayed the dominance and began to lose about as often as he won. During one particularly brutal stretch in the early ’90s, Ward lost four straight fights by unanimous decision. 

This helped Ward get back on his feet, however. He won nine out of his next 10 fights, including a pair of victories against Louis Veader. After a decent stretch of matches, including a Light Title bout against Shea Neary, Ward concluded his career with a trilogy against Arturo Gatti. He lost two out of the three fights. 

His boxing career has been over for 17 years, but Ward continues feeling the pain that a life of fighting caused him to this day. 

Micky Ward’s lingering pain

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Now in his 50s, Ward is learning what so many learn after careers predicated on violent sports. His years in the ring have left him a shell of his former self as he begins to feel the damage that they caused to his brain. 

“The stuff I go through every day worrying about if I’m going to get a headache, and how bad it’s going to be, kind of like, consumes you,” Ward told the Boston Herald. “It’s terrible. It makes you nauseous, it’s like a thump in the back of my head. You just feel drained all day,”

CTE is nothing new to people who have paid attention over the last few years. The NFL, UFC, WBA, and even the NBA have all taken severe precautions to ensure their brains are not too damaged. In a time before this, however, hits to the head and the ensuing symptoms were just part of the game. 

Ward began to fight before he was even a teenager, and he hopes that his current condition will keep parents on their toes. 

“If one of the mothers or fathers could get in my head for a day and know what my head feels like from taking so many blows and boxing, they’d think twice about letting their kid get hit under 14 years old,” he told the paper. 

Living with the past to save the future

Nausea, headaches, forgetfulness, and a sense of mental cloudiness are a regular part of Ward’s life. He said these symptoms rarely came out, if ever, while he still fought. The same machismo that drives boxing often causes fighters to withstand the pain. Ward still loves boxing, but he now wishes he hadn’t put his body in as much risk. 

While he doesn’t want to put an end to the sport, he does want people to take their health seriously and listen to their bodies. He has already agreed to donate his brain and spinal column to Boston University when he dies so they can study it, reports NECN. Hopefully, his pain can help shed light on future generations of fighters so that they do not have the same issues.