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Mickey Rourke returns to Wild Card Gym

January 14, 2009 |  8:45 pm

Mickey Rourke was in a far different place in life when he was a professional boxer in the early 1990s working under the guidance of Freddie Roach.

On the heels of 1980s hits such as "Diner," "9 1/2 Weeks," "Rumble Fish" and "Barfly," Rourke's film career had spiraled to a role in "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man."

But he found kindred spirits in boxing, and one of those was Roach, who has artfully directed the boxing career of the world's top pound-for-pound fighter, Manny Pacquiao, and is now serving as boxing coach to mixed martial arts fighter Andrei Arlovski, who will fight the man considered the world's top MMA fighter, Fedor Emelianenko, Jan. 24 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Rourke, three days removed from receiving a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama for his stirring performance as professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson in the film, "The Wrestler," stopped by Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood today on his way to taping an appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He's already given post-victory interviews to Jay Leno and Oprah.

After catching up with Roach and talking fighting with Arlovski, Rourke spoke to The Times about his time in boxing, his admiration for Roach, and how the sport helped him navigate a life of redemption that is expected to include a Best Actor nomination when Oscar nominees are announced Jan. 22.

-- Lance Pugmire