Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports


The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, is a movie that is based on the life of professional boxer “Irish” Micky Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) improbable pursuit for the world welterweight title and it was initially released to the public on December 17, 2010. Micky’s rocky-life rise to prominence in boxing was shepherded by his half-brother Dicky (Christian Bale), an ex-boxer trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being ruined because of drug addiction and engagement in criminal activities. Other main characters in the biographical sports drama film include Alice Ward (Melissa Leo), Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), and George Ward (Jack McGee). A number of aspects in the movie are related to sports psychology.

The Fighter film summary

Micky is trying to emulate the success of his half-brother Dicky who has been giving him technical assistance and training him for as long as they can both remember. And, their mother, Alice, has been playing the role of his manager for the whole period to ensure that he develops a name for himself as a boxer. However, despite the roles played by both Alice and Dicky, Micky does not win any significant competitions. His trainer is addicted to drugs and his mother’s efforts seem not to be fruitful (Leupp, 2010). Thus, Micky understands that he has to make some changes in the management of his fights if he intends to realize serious success in his career.

As such, when Micky develops a relationship with Charlene and Dicky is serving a jail sentence, Micky makes very difficult decisions. He changes his management and decides to pay little attention to the demands of his family. Once Dicky completes serving the prison sentence, all hell breaks loose as Dicky and Micky enter in a confrontation. Soon, after bringing every person back together again, the group travels to London for Micky’s most important fight in his career in which he manages to win the competition.

A significant aspect that relates sport psychology to this movie is the individual correlates evident in Micky’s rocky career as a boxer. Demographic, biological, as well as behavioral correlates are significant factors that influenced Micky’s unlikely road to the world light welterweight title. Demographic and biological correlates are shown due to Micky’s socioeconomic status and cultural customs (Fraser-Thomas, 2011). Mickey’s family is supportive to see his progress as a boxer. Her mother, Alice, performs everything within her power to achieve this. And when things seemed not to be working well, his father, George, stepped in to give him advice that proved to be beneficial to his career.

Micky’s half-brother, Dicky, inculcated cultural norms onto him. The success that Dicky portrayed when he was fighting, especially when he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard, encouraged Micky to pursue boxing as a career. Thus, Micky enlisted the support of Dicky in his career pursuits in the boxing world. Nonetheless, he started showing serious hesitation to engage in fighting after recording some defeats, particularly when an opponent who was eighteen pounds heavier than he was defeated him in an obvious mismatch. Thus, after these consistent defeats, he developed a reduced interest towards the game, which made his psychological response to be negative. Further, Micky’s frustrations and embarrassments made him to portray a self-conscious attitude towards everything around him.

Relation to sports psychology

Micky experienced anxiety as he was trying to cope with the events that were taking place in his life. His major problem was cognitive anxiety that made him to portray serious hesitation when Alice tried to arrange for him another match. In order to avoid too much worries, he decided to withdraw from the world and start a relationship with Charlene with the intention of forgetting his present difficulties. In addition, at one point, he experienced somatic anxiety when he tried to rescue his half-brother from being arrested by the police. He suddenly became very aggressive and wild when he saw that things were not taking place as planned and he tried to rescue his half-brother.

The arrest of Dicky would mean that Dicky would not have to match Micky’s offer to be paid to train in Les Vegas. It is worth mentioning that Micky’s mother and seven sisters tended to blame his lack of motivation through an external locus of control. Instead of blaming themselves for inadequate management of Micky’s fights that made him to be defeated constantly, they cast the blame to his girlfriend as the cause of his poor performance in the ring.

It is important to note that negative energy that was leading to Micky’s poor performance started to diminish when positive socio-cultural correlates started to play an increasing role in the whole episode (Crocker, 2011). Convinced by his father, Micky gets a new manager, Sal Lonano, to assist him in the training. They make an agreement that Alice and Dicky will no longer be involved in the training program.

The new team then arranges for Micky some minor fights to assist him in regaining his confidence towards the game. Surprisingly, this led to remarkable results when he managed to win a fight between him and an undefeated up-and-coming boxer to earn him a title shot that his opponent wanted. This positive influence managed to change his psychological attitude to a more positive side and thus motivated him further. Thus, as he started to realize the energy he had in achieving things, his locus of control started to become internal and to steer him to excellence.

To win ultimately the coveted welterweight title, Micky had to set goals, assisted by his trainers. These goals were aimed at wining coveted titles and becoming a renowned boxer, just like his half-brother. Thus, these can be classified as outcome goals and they are directly related to the self-determination theory. This can be further illustrated by the fact that Dicky praises his brother, as the film is nearly ending, for being the creator of his own accomplishment in the boxing world. In addition, an example of an external regulation motivator in the movie is the situation in which the team travels to London for the title fight.


In conclusion, The Fighter is an excellent depiction of the sport psychology concept. The events in the movie illustrate the association between excellence in sports and psychology. Before he changed his management team, Micky was recording a poor show in performance during fights. This was mainly because he lacked motivation and he had poorly defined goals. However, after getting a new trainer and redefining his goals specifically, he managed to triumph in the sport. He achieved this mainly because he was self-motivated and also due to the motivation he got from those close to him.

Reference List

Crocker, P. R. E. (2011). Sport and exercise psychology : a Canadian perspective. Toronto: Pearson.

Fraser-Thomas, J. (2011). Individual Correlates of Physical Activity. Lecture notes for KINE 3000, York University, Toronto, ON.

Leupp, T. (2010). The Fighter Movie Review. Hollywood. Web.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2023, October 24). Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, October 24). Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports.

Work Cited

"Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports." PsychologyWriting, 24 Oct. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports'. 24 October.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports." October 24, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports." October 24, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Fighter (2010) Film Summary and its Relation to Sports." October 24, 2023.