(NECN: Brad Puffer) - During his long career, Micky Ward took countless blows to the head. But he's now working with Boston University to discover the long-term effects of such punishment on the brain.
The Lowell, Massachusetts native will participate in long-term behavioral and cognitive study while he's alive, and donate his brain and spinal column after his death.
For Micky Ward, donating his brain and spinal cord to science after he dies was an easy decision. Because he knows firsthand the damage caused by repeat concussions and blows to the head.
Micky Ward: "I don't know how many times I have felt I was dizzy and said, how do you feel, and I say I feel good, because I don't want to say I hurt my head or you can't fight I just wanted to keep going."
It's that drive to keep going, that made Micky Ward a legend, leading to a 38-11 record as junior welterweight with 27 wins by knockout.
Micky Ward: "So many athletes suffer concussion. Gymnastics, tumbling, falling. Hockey, that's huge. It's not just in boxing."
Micky Ward will give his brain to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Dr. Robert Cantu is the Center's co-director and a leading neuroscientist studying brain injuries.
Dr. Robert Cantu: "I think it's huge I think it's absolutely great."
Dr. Cantu says by studying Ward now and after he dies, they hope to eventually learn more about a disease that lead to depression and early dementia. But right now they can only confirm the disease after someone dies.
Dr. Robert Cantu: "We will be able to know for certainly what we have found in our studies while he is alive if that is really CTE or not."
Ward plans to do more speaking on this important topic. The fact that the movie about his life is gaining Oscar buzz only gives him a bigger platform to get out his message. And he hopes younger athletes will listen
Micky Ward: "When you do get a concussion take more time off before you come back, make sure are seen by a doctor and get the proper diagnoses."