LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Welsh-born actor Christian Bale won the Academy Award on Sunday for his supporting role as a washed-up former boxing champ in "The Fighter", moments after co-star Melissa Leo clinched the best supporting actress Oscar.
Bale, 37, dominated the various awards shows leading up to the Oscars, but pundits had said he might face some strong competition from Geoffrey Rush for "The King's Speech."
It marked the first win and first nomination for Bale, who lost 30 pounds (13.5 kg) to play the real-life role of Dicky Eklund, a former regional Welterweight boxing champion who succumbs to a cocaine addiction.
Bale bounded on stage and pointed out the man known as the "Pride of Lowell", who was seated beside his brother in the audience and now works as a professional boxing trainer.
"I can't wait to see the next chapter of his story," Bale said, adding that anyone needing a trainer should check out Eklund's website.
Bale is perhaps best known for his title role in the latest Batman films, though he was often overshadowed by co-stars such as posthumous Oscar-winner Heath Ledger. With "The Fighter," he stole the thunder of headliner Mark Wahlberg who played Dicky's pugilist younger brother, Micky Ward.
He becomes the third Welsh actor to win the best actor Oscar, after Ray Milland and Anthony Hopkins.
Besides Rush, Bale's other rivals were John Hawkes for "Winter's Bone," Jeremy Renner for "The Town" and Mark Ruffalo for "The Kids Are All Right."
Reporting by Dean Goodman and Edwin Chan; Editing by Mary Milliken