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Mark Wahlberg Lands Role of Mickey Ward

Posted by Fara Kearnes on February 14, 2007 3:49 PM |

Mark Wahlberg picBoston-born Mark Wahlberg has landed a plum role portraying the legendary boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward in the upcoming film "The Fighter."

"I've been dying to do a boxing movie my whole career," one-time street fighter and "Boogie Nights" star said in an interview. "I've been close to doing two, and they kinda fell apart, but it's something I'm very excited about."

The drama will follow boxer Ward's unlikely road to the world lightweight title. His Rocky-like rise was shepherded by half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after heavy involvement with drugs and crime. Matt Damon has been cast in the role of brother Dick Eklund.

Wahlberg, who nabbed an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in "Departed," next stars in the Paramount thriller "Shooter."


Pals rally for Ricky ‘The Rock’ Meyers
Event planned for former Golden Gloves boxer
Staff Writer

In the late 1970s, Ricky Meyers was a Port Reading kid who one day discovered he had a penchant for boxing.

“My uncle used to fight when I was really young and I used to watch his fights,” said Meyers, now 37. “I started going to the gym to watch him work out. One day, me and my older brother started sparring. I was a natural at it.”

The gym was the Woodbridge Recreation Boxing Club. And it was there that Meyers got his break into amateur boxing. He was 12 years old.

“One day these kids from another gym came over,” he said. “And I was paired with another guy and we sparred good together. There was a boxing show coming up and someone suggested we fight in the show. It was a pretty good fight for a couple of little guys.”

Throughout high school, Meyers kept fighting.

The highlight of his amateur career came during his senior year. He traveled with the U.S. Boxing Team and was featured on ABC’s “World of Sports.”

“I was so proud to be part of the U.S. Boxing Team,” Meyers said. “It was so spectacular. It was breathtaking to me.”

Seeing his face plastered on boxing posters in Atlantic City was also thrilling, Meyers said.

“When I turned pro, it was really huge back then,” he said. “They made posters of me. All my friends would come.”

Meyers’ boyhood friend Dennis DeMarino was one of those friends. DeMarino, who is now the Woodbridge Board of Education’s business administrator and secretary, said he and a group of Meyers’ friends would organize bus trips to watch him fight.

“We’d fill up two full buses, no problem,” DeMarino said. “He always had a big cheering section that way.”

Now after wathcing him win four consecutive New Jersey Golden Glove titles in the light welterweight division and a professional boxing career that spanned six years, Meyers’ friends are again coming together to help the Woodbridge boy who made good.

But this time, Meyers is not in the ring.

He moved to Las Vegas almost 10 years ago, after he retired from professional boxing to focus on his marriage and two young daughters. It was there he came close to dying after he accidentally drove his Harley-Davidson Fatboy into a brick wall.

“I came [into the hospital] as a fatal,” he said. “I was in bad shape. My helmet was found 100 yards away.”

Meyers doesn’t remember anything from that day. He was told he had dropped his daughter off at his now ex-wife’s home. He drove his car home and then decided to go for a ride on his bike with some friends.

“I was only a block from my house,” Meyers said. “Someone said I was leaning to the right, looking like I was adjusting something, when my wheel caught the curb. I slid down the curb 30 yards and then hit the wall.”

Meyers broke his right femur and ulna (the bone that extends from the elbow to the wrist); lost all his bottom teeth; and worst of all, suffered a brain injury.

“I was in a real bad place not too long ago,” he said. “After the accident it was touch-and-go for the first 24 hours.”

Meyers suffers short-term memory loss due to frontal lobe damage. Doctors anticipate a 100-percent recovery, but it could take up to six months or a year, Meyers said.

“It happened in October, and he’s come a long way, but he still has a long road to go,” DeMarino said.

Meyers, a corrections officer with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department at the Clark County Detention Center, has used all his sick and vacation time to keep a steady paycheck coming in. But his time is running out.

“My sick time, my vacation time, I burned up everything I have,” Meyers said. “My supervisor at work sent out a memo asking people to donate sick time or vacation time so I don’t lose any.”

Although many people have given up their time for Meyers, it’s still not enough.

So DeMarino and his other old pals who used to organize the bus trips are organizing a fund-raiser in Meyers name.

“There are lots of people who would help if they just knew about it,” DeMarino said.

Rich Gould’s son, Tom, was good friends with Meyers in high school, Gould said.

“It was fantastic,” Gould said of Meyers’ boxing matches. “It was more exciting to watch a kid who came out of Woodbridge do the best he can. Now, we’re trying to help him out.”

A group of Meyers’ old friends, including DeMarino and Gould have set up the Ricky “The Rock” Meyers Fund.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund may send a check or money order to: Ricky “The Rock” Meyers Fund, P.O. Box 1094, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

The group is also selling 50/50s for $5 a chance, DeMarino said. The drawing is scheduled to be held March 4 at the Port Reading Knights of Columbus. For more information, call Dennis DeMarino at (732) 602-8536.

Chances are also being sold at Not Just Bagels on Main Street and Pop’s Place on Rahway Avenue in Woodbridge.

“He was a hometown hero,” DeMarino said. “We’re just trying to be good friends.”

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