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'The Fighter' Mom Alice Ward Dies at 79

BOSTON, Mass. --- Undisputed” --- Alice Ward – mother to boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund whose life story was turned into the Hollywood movie “The Fighter” died Wednesday at the age of 79.

Ward passed away at a Boston hospital Wednesday, one day after she was taken off life support, according to her son Dicky Eklund.

"We lost the leader of our family," Eklund told the Lowell Sun. "She was a great woman, a strong woman. She taught us all what it means to be strong because she never gave up on any of us."

Ward had gone into cardiac arrest in January.

Ward's failing health had been a concern for her family for the past few years. In January, she went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing for more than 30 minutes (she regained consciousness and began breathing on her own).

Alice Ward was played in the 2010 movie by actress Melissa Leo, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as the feisty mother of nine children.

Melissa Leo also won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Ward in "The Fighter", which also brought an Oscar for Christian Bale in his role as Eklund.

Ward reportedly was not thrilled with the way she was portrayed in the David O’ Russell movie. Leo who spent time with the feisty, foul mouthed matriarch defended her performance of the boxing mom.

"There's no way in hell that when I played Alice Ward, whom I was playing a bad mother. Quite the opposite," she told THR. "And if her whole story doesn't get told, well, it's not her movie, for God's sake. If you wanna sit down with a week, I'll explain every heartbeat, of how she does what she does and why she does it, and that she's not selfish, and she's entirely sympathetic."

Though it's easy to "paint her bad," Leo said, "I very much want her heart to be known to the world. I know Alice Ward to have a good heart … They remain a very close, tight-knit family with all kinds of stories and a whole lotta love."

Funeral plans have not been announced. Ward is survived by her nine children.

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