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‘Fighter’ puts up with punches

Real-life subjects approve finished product

It was a family affair at Tuesday’s premiere of Relativity Media and Paramount’s “The Fighter” as Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale took the Chinese Theater stage with their respective real-life counterparts, Mickey Ward and Dicky Eklund.

A nervous Ward thanked Wahlberg, who has known the two brothers since he was 18, saying, “Mark, thanks for keeping the ball rolling when it was on the ground,” referring to the pic’s seven-year gestation with Wahlberg as producer.

Eklund also expressed his gratitude: “Thanks to everybody for seeing this movie. I was really disgusted the first time I seen it, but it gets better and better.”

Director David O. Russell palled around with the Ward family at the Annex-hosted after-party.

“They’re like my favorite characters in some of my favorite movies,” he said. “When I first saw them, I thought, ‘Oh my God, who are these people?’ The bleached-blond mother and sisters with two brothers. But they’re filled with life, and that’s why they’re all here tonight. They’re my friends now.”

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