Jen Wallace in the Ring

Wallace-e. rennard

Mrs. Wallace ready to throw punches (E. Rennard)

Just a few weeks back, the SAC posed us with another faculty trivia question,   “Which teacher here at Groton was a boxer at the same gym Mickey Ward trained in and the same gym filmed in the movie The Fighter?”  The teacher who was vying in the ring turned out to be our very own history teacher, Jen Wallace.

“At the time I was working at Groton and I needed an anti-Groton,” said Mrs. Wallace. “I needed something off campus.” Her off campus solution came to her one day while playing Fight Night on the Xbox. In the summer of 2006, Mrs. Wallace was making frequent trips into Boston and had a bit of time to kill, so she joined a “white collar” gym on Commonwealth Avenue appropriately named “The Ring”.

Summer passed and all was well, but when school started back up again in September, heading into Boston two to four times a week was not possible; it was just too long a trip. Her solution was the West End Gym in Lowell: “[the West End Gym] was a very real place; it was a real gym, with real people, and real boxing,” she said. The gym was very female-friendly and soon enough Mrs. Wallace had herself a boxing mentor by the name of Dave Ortiz (not the baseball player). Although Mrs. Wallace never compet

ed in a fight, she kept training.

“It was therapeutic hitting the heavy bags,” she said. The West End gym was filled with serious boxers and troubled kids. The local kids who were getting into trouble with the Lowell police were sent to the gym so that they could have some sense of structure and organization within their lives; Mrs. Wallace said that “all the kids there were good at heart… they used to call me ‘Professor.’”

In 2010, the David O. Russell movie The Fighter hit the theaters. The movie featured Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. The Fighter is based on the life of Mickey Ward and his brother, both famous and successful boxers. The movie is set and filmed in Massachusetts. In fact, all of the gym scenes were shot in the West End Gym, with many of the gym regulars appearing as extras all throughout the movie.

According to Mrs. Wallace, Mark Wahlberg was dead on with his portrayal of Mickey Ward. “[Mickey is] very nice and thoughtful, but he is just not a talker”. Nowadays, Mickey trains his nephew at the West End Gym and can be found hanging around the gym..

The movie, if you have not seen it, has a score of ninety one on Rotten Tomatoes and it gives you a picture of where Mrs. Wallace was sneaking off to train. Although she stopped boxing in June 2007 after moving to the Philippines, Mrs. Wallace said that she would not have given up the experience for the world.


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