SALEM — Boxing is a tough sport.
But boxing photographer Emily Harney is tough, too. Shooting Mike Tyson at his last fight against Kevin McBride on March 8, 2007, Harney caught the former champion in profound defeat, sitting on the canvas, spent, battered, collapsed against the ropes.
Word got back that Tyson didn't like her photo one bit.
"Next time, put your hands up," Harney responded. "I did my job. You didn't do yours."
She shakes her head with disgust, believing the once-great heavyweight had simply quit — "against a guy he should have knocked out in the first round."
Harney's love of the sport — the 30-year-old has been going to matches for 10 years and taking photos professionally in the United States and Europe — got her work prominently displayed in the Mark Wahlberg film "The Fighter." During the opening moments, a scene set in a barber shop, a collection of boxing images is displayed on the wall.
"Those are all mine," she says. "It was really cool seeing them." The photos include diverse shots from Harney's extensive boxing portfolio.
Their inclusion in the film stemmed in part from a connection to Lowell boxer Mickey Ward, hero of the true-life drama. She met Ward through his half-brother, Dickie Eklund, played by Christian Bale in the movie.
"I have this brother," Eklund told her. "He's a fighter. You should come down and photograph him."
Harney sensed character as soon as she met Ward. She signed on to shoot his next fight for her senior thesis. It didn't work out as planned.
"He stopped the guy in the first round with a body shot," she remembers. Harney had only just loaded her camera. She complained to Ward, who promised more fights to come.
Much of this doesn't seem to fit the dark-haired substitute teacher who has been known to change shoes at ringside hoping to get a little extra height.