The Good Son – The Life of Boom Boom Mancini By: Mark Kriegel

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Frank Sinatra fawned over him. Warren Zevon wrote a tribute song.  Sylvester Stallone produced his life story as a movie of the week. In the 1980s, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini wasn’t merely the lightweight champ. An adoring public considered him a national hero, the real Rocky.

From the mobbed-up steel city of Youngstown, Ohio, Mancini was cast as the savior of a sport: a righteous kid in a corrupt game, symbolically potent and demographically perfect, the last white ethnic. He fought for those left behind in busted-out mill towns across America. But most of all, he fought for his father. Lenny Mancini—the original Boom Boom, as he was called—had been a lightweight contender himself. But the elder Mancini’s dream ended on a battlefield in November 1944, when fragments from a German mortar shell nearly killed him. Almost four decades later, Ray promised to win the title his father could not. What came of that vow was a feel-good fable for network television.

But it all came apart November 13, 1982, in a brutal battle at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Mancini’s obscure Korean challenger, Duk Koo Kim, went down in the 14th round and never regained consciousness. Three months later, Kim’s despondent mother took her own life. The deaths would haunt Ray and ruin his carefully crafted image, suddenly transforming boxing’s All-American Boy into a pariah.

Now, thirty years after that nationally televised bout, Mark Kriegel finally uncovers the story’s full dimensions. In tracking the Mancini and Kim families across generations, Kriegel exacts confessions and excavates mysteries—from the killing of Mancini’s brother to the fate of Kim’s son. In scenes both brutal and tender, the narrative moves from Youngstown to New York, Vegas to Seoul, Reno to Hollywood, where the inevitably romantic idea of a fighter comes up against reality.

With the vivid style and deep reporting that have earned him renown as a biographer, Kriegel has written a fast-paced epic. The Good Son is an intimate history, a saga of fathers and fighters, loss and redemption.

9 Responses to The Good Son – The Life of Boom Boom Mancini By: Mark Kriegel

  • Hello Ray,
    When you offered ticket to see your last fight only a month or so before the fight when you dropped in on Michaels Bar in Elmira, NY. ie we shared some pitchers of beer at a table with one of our security guards from Elmira College (Danny Kay) of which although I respectfully declined because, actually my questioning whether I could handle playing “hooky” in my classes that I might not have been able to catch up (especially as I was getting assistance in tuition from the GI Bill). That became one of many regrets that I learned I should have bucked up and just handled. Over the years I have been keeping up with your activities and as my friends from New Castle, PA of which some years ago one’s sister, Eva Nadariski know your X-wife and her having a car lot around the area. I forwarded word through them on how you are doing and word got back to me that you vaguely remember that time in Elmira. As shortly after graduating Elmira College in 1983, I wqas promoted to a tranfer as a bonded courier guard while at Elmira College w/Purolator Courier Corporation, through a transfer to Florida where my parents left Elmira/retired to the Daytona Beach Area while I became the Marketing manager for the sun coast of Florida whereby thereafter relocating to the East Coast of FL, Daytona Beach with the USPS from “84′-”96″ then a slow time finally relocated to Latrobe, PA getting married in 2003 to my law professor whom left Elmira College and a period of teaching jobs in ie, Great falls College and University at Malmstrom AFB, Montana then to St Vincents College, Latrobe, PA.The same of basically losing contact with all friends and associates, though I have seen you on a movie w/Mickey Rourke some years ago and commend you for all of your accomplishments and wish you the best. I ran into somw spinal problems thar hit me in a boating accident in 1986 however never gave in although results after a lamenectomy to my lower spine, left both legs from knee and into my feet virtually paralyzed however these days I am only working w/hobbies and projects taking me into occassional pohptpgraphy projects and entering a car I put together with my buds and their families in New Castle, ie, 72 mustang concertible modified to an R code(HO 351 Cleveland engine set up very similiar to the Boss 351 of 71 w/Hurst 4-speed manual @ 366hp) In website block is profile on my accomplishments w/activities w/mustang. Sincerely, Mike Kohan

  • Vince R says:

    Youngstown, Ohio caries the unfortunate stigma to outsiders of a broken down steel town overrun by unemployment, corruption and crime. Every city in the U.S. struggles with these issues to various degrees. However, what goes ignored is that Youngstown is also about humble hard working determined people with good hearts and a devout love for God and family. THIS is what Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini is all about. Ray represents all that is great about Youngstown, Ohio and this country…to a generation, he was and still is our real life Rocky. The Good Son does a wonderful job of telling Ray’s inspirational life story.

    • David Bresko says:

      One thing about people born and raised in Youngstown no matter how often we get knocked down we get back up swinging…. Maybe that’s why so.many good boxers came from the area… I’m just glad to say ” I remember the Mancinis, Arroyo,Generio,and Pavalk they are good people ” …..

  • Ken Webb says:

    Great book Ray. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for the note about the web site. As you can see have found it, great site, will ad to favourites as want a t.shirt. at some point. Stay well and healthy

  • Victor Di Bella says:

    Enjoyed THE GOOD SON. Looking forward to the movie. Never a giant boxing fan but treasure my Italo-sicilian heritage so I loved all the stories related to that. Cliffside Park, New Jersey was my hometown but I think I would have fit in in Youngstown. Good luck Ray…

  • Rudy Merckx says:

    This last friday night I watched the sports documentary “The good son”. Waw…I can advise everyone to watch this one, sports/boxing fan or not.
    If I ever had to summarise “life” with all it’s ups and downs in a short visual moment…this would be one of the best examples.
    To Mr Mancini : You Sir, truly are a good man.

    Happy Holidays

  • Jennifer Whitford says:

    You were a hometown hero. My father, Kent Fusselman, was a huge fan and at one time a friend of yours. I had all your memorabilia growing up and remember your fight at Warren G Harding, my alma mater. Just reaching out…you’ll always be remembered as a great fighter!

  • My dad is a huge boxing fan and you were his favorite boxer as I was a youngster in the late 70′s and early 80′s. When the documentary “The Good Son” appeared on Netflix I immediately decided to watch it. I learned so much about you and gained a new respect for you. Now I see why my father admired you so much. You made him proud to be an Italian American! I think you are amazingly brave and I commend you for having the heart and will to always try and do what’s right.

  • David Dunner says:

    Mr Mancini
    I just watched the good son. And I just wanted to say that your story restored some of
    My faith in humanity. The world need more people like you. Your drive and heart are an inspiration.And in closing I just want to wish you and your family the best. And also I hope
    you are doing well,

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