By Ryan Miningham

With the success of The Fighter I start to enjoy the fact that the long shot still has a chance to make it in this business. The Fighter has been on my radar for a while and when it went into production I started speculating about what kind of movie it was going to be and it’s chances on making an impact outside the boxing world. The Fighter is about the comeback of welterweight “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother Dickie who helped him train on his campaign to win a title after being out of boxing for years. You won’t find a better story in boxing except for maybe Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, the Canadian born boxer who relocated to New Jersey when he was a teenager.You see “Irish” Micky Ward wasn’t known for his comeback, his brother Dickie, or his shot at the title. He’s known because he and Arturo “Thunder” Gatti had three of the best fights in history. Two of the fights being named fights of the year and round nine of fight number two is literally the best round of boxing ever. You won’t see any Gatti storyline in The Fighter but these two souls represent the heart and determination that are usually an alternative to the money and political strategies that are used to gain success in Hollywood today.

I didn’t expect The Fighter to connect with the masses because I found it to be the poor man’s version of James Braddock’s comeback story, which was covered in Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man in 2005. Braddock had a hand injury that kept him out of the game for years as did Ward. I consider Cinderella Man one of the greatest sports story and film ever made and for it to be passed over the way it was baffled me. Sure, it drew some nominations and awards but when you consider the players involved and how good the movie is its mind boggling that it didn’t make more of a connection. You have Imagine’s unstoppable duo, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, an A list cast that knock’s it out of the park, and your a Universal film. The Fighter was a great story but didn’t have near the resources. There was no reason to think it wouldn’t share the same fate if not worse.

So what do we attribute The Fighter’s success to? Timing? Money? Luck? Wahlberg? Cinderella Man proves you need more than money and we all know we need a little luck. But to surrender success or lack of success to the politics of Hollywood or nature of the business rather than hard work and determination would mean all hope was lost for the long shots. The hope that encourages under dogs, generates creativity, and attracts the next generation of fighters that arrive here every day with nothing but a dream and endless drive to put towards that dream. Why do we care how much work was put into a movie? We care because some times hard work is all you got. If all you needed were money and/or a buddy at Universal to make it there would be no Mickey Wards or Arturo Gattis. There would be no soul or passion. And without a soul you eventually die. And without passion you only exist. Recently the window for success has narrowed among independents causing the smaller productions to diminish. The Fighter has instilled some soul back into Hollywood and given some hope back to the ones that make this business interesting. The long shots. In the very least it’s made us realize that it really benefits to have Mark Wahlberg attached to your project.