Philip Andre Rourke Jr. was born on September 16, 1952, in Schenectady, New York, the son of Annette (née Cameron) and Philip Andre Rourke (1924–1982). His father was of Irish descent and his mother had Scottish ancestry. He was raised Catholic and still practices his faith. His father left the family when Mickey was young. After his parents divorced, his mother married Eugene Addis, a Miami Beach police officer with five sons, and moved Rourke, his younger brother (Joey), and their sister (Patricia) to South Florida. There, he graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School in 1971.
During his teenage years, Rourke focused his attention mainly on sports. He took up self-defense training at the Boys Club of Miami. It was there that he learned boxing skills and decided on an amateur career. At age 12, Rourke won his first boxing match as a 112-pound (51 kg) flyweight, fighting some of his early matches under the name Phil Rourke. He continued his boxing training at the famed 5th Street Gym, in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1969, Rourke, then weighing 140 pounds (63.5 kg) sparred with former World Welterweight Champion Luis Rodríguez. Rodríguez was the number one–rated middleweight boxer in the world and was training for his match with world champion Nino Benvenuti. Rourke says he received a concussion from his sparring match with Rodríguez. At the 1971 Florida Golden Gloves, Rourke suffered another concussion in a boxing match. After being told by doctors to take a year off and rest, Rourke temporarily retired from the ring. From 1964 to 1973, Rourke compiled an amateur boxing record of 27 wins (including 12 straight knockouts) and 3 defeats, which included a first-round knockout win over John Carver and decision victories over Ronnie Carter and Javier Villanueva.
In 1991, Rourke decided that he “had to go back to boxing” because he felt that he “was self-destructing … [and] had no respect for [himself as] an actor”. Rourke was undefeated in eight fights, with six wins (four by knockout) and two draws. He fought internationally in countries including Spain, Japan, and Germany. During his boxing career, Rourke suffered a number of injuries, including a broken nose, toe, and ribs, a split tongue, and a compressed cheekbone. He also suffered from short-term memory loss. His trainer during most of his boxing career was Hells Angels member, actor, and celebrity bodyguard Chuck Zito. Freddie Roach also trained Rourke for seven fights. Rourke’s entrance song into the ring was often Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (to which reference is made in his film The Wrestler, in which Rourke’s character enters his final match of the film to the song playing over the loudspeakers). Boxing promoters said that Rourke was too old to succeed against top-level fighters. Indeed, Rourke himself admits that entering the ring was a sort of personal test: “[I] just wanted to give it a shot, test myself that way physically, while I still had time.” Rourke’s boxing career resulted in a notable physical change in the 1990s, as his face needed reconstructive surgery to mend his injuries. His face was later called “appallingly disfigured”.
Return to boxing in 2014
On November 28, 2014, Rourke briefly returned to the boxing ring and fought 29-year-old Elliot Seymour in Moscow, Russia. It was Rourke’s first boxing match in over 20 years. Talks of him being involved in four more matches were released by Rourke himself after the match. He won the exhibition fight in the second round by TKO. The fight is not counted in his professional record since it was an exhibition match. The opponent later stated that he threw the fight, having been promised payment to take a dive in the second round.