Thursday, July 24, 2008

A kid from Liberty City


Mickey Rourke was born Phillip Andre Rourke, Jr., in Liberty City, Florida. As a teenager, he attended Miami Beach Senior High School, where it's not clear if he graduated or not. One thing that is clear: Rourke played second-string first baseman on the school's baseball team under coach Skip Bertman. Yet another mystery regarding his high school days is his acting career. It's reported that he took drama classes with the legendary "Teacher To The Stars,"Jay W. Jensen; appearing in at least one stage play. However, a P. Rourke listed in the play's credits, could be that of his sister, Patricia Rourke, who also attended Miami Beach Senior High School. Rourke's teenage years were more aimed towards sports than acting. Raised in the tough inner city, Rourke took up self-defense training at the Boys Club of Miami. It was there he learned boxing skills, and decided on an amateur career. At the age of 12, Rourke won his first boxing match as a 118-pound bantamweight. Some of his early matches were fought as Andre Rourke. He continued his boxing training at the famed 5th Street Gym on Miami Beach, Florida; joining the Police Athletic League boxing program. In 1969, Rourke, now weighing 140lbs., sparred with former World Welterweight Champion Luis Rodriguez. Rodriguez was the number one rated middleweight boxer in the world, and was training for his match with world champion Nino Benvenuti. Rourke claims to have received a concussion in this sparring match. In 1971, at the Florida Golden Gloves, he received another concussion from a boxing match. He was told by doctors to take a year off and rest, but Rourke decided to retire from the ring. From 1968 to 1972, Mickey Rourke compiled an amateur boxing record of 20-6, with 17 knockouts. He was disqualified 4 times, and lost 2 decisions. At one point, he reportedly scored 12 consecutive first round knockouts. As an amateur, Rourke had been friendly with pro-boxer Tommy Torino. When Rourke decided to return to boxing as a professional, Torino promoted some of Rourke's fights. Rourke was trained by former pro-boxer Freddie Roach at Miami Beach's 5th Street Gym and the Outlaw Boxing Club Gym in Los Angeles. Rourke made $250 for his pro debut, but by the end of his 2nd year of boxing, he earned a million dollars. Rourke appeared on the cover of World Boxing Magazine in June 1994. He sparred with world champions James Toney, John Davis Jackson, and Tommy Morrison. Rourke wanted to have 16 professional fights and then fight for a world title. However, he retired after 7 bouts and never got his desired title fight. His boxing career resulted in severe facial injuries which required a number of operations to repair his damaged face.

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