Ray Mancini

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Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
Class of 2015
Modern Category
Hall of Fame bio: [1]

Name: Ray Mancini
Alias: Boom Boom
Birth Name: Raymond Michael Mancini
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio, USA
Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 164cm
Reach: 165cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Boxing Career

Mancini (right) vs. Alexis Arguello
Mancini (right) vs. Arturo Frias
Mancini with his parents after defeating Ernesto Espana
Mancini (left) vs. Deuk-Koo Kim
Mancini (right) vs. Bobby Chacon

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini was born Raymond Michael Mancini on March 4, 1961, in Youngstown, Ohio. He was the third of three children.

Mancini's father, Lenny "Boom Boom" Mancini, boxed professionally from 1937 to 1947. The Ring ranked Lenny as the world's No. 1 lightweight contender in the April 1941 issue. He was considered by many to be a future world champion, but his dream was dashed after he was wounded during World War II. He returned to boxing after the war, but his physical problems prevented him from fulfilling his potential.

Ray's father was his inspiration, and he started going to the gym at a young age. Mancini had a stellar amateur career, winning 43 of 50 bouts. He won the Youngstown Golden Gloves and the Northeastern Ohio Golden Gloves in 1977, 1978 and 1979. He was a semi-finalist at the 1978 National Golden Gloves Tournament and a quarter-finalist in 1979. Mancini also won the Northeast Ohio AAU Championship in 1978 and made the quarter-finals of the National AAU Tournament.

Mancini turned professional in October 1979 with Dave Wolf as his manager and Murphy Griffith as his trainer. Griffith discovered Mancini at the 1979 National Golden Gloves Tournament in Indianapolis. Wolf, whose only clients at the time were Duane Bobick and Ed (Too Tall) Jones, had sent Griffith there to scout for prospects. The trainer was immediately impressed by Mancini. "He was raw," Griffith said, "but he reminded me of a little Marciano."

In his first year as a pro, Mancini fought fourteen times and captured the Ohio State Lightweight Championship. His whirlwind punching style soon caught the eyes of network executives at several American television networks, and he became a regular part of their sports programming.

Ray Arcel, Lenny's former trainer, was ringside when Ray knocked out former National AAU Lightweight Champion Norman Goins in two rounds in March 1981. Arcel said Ray was "just like his father." Lenny disagreed. "He's a lot more scientific than I was," the senior Mancini said. "A lot more smarter."

Mancini stopped Jorge Morales in nine rounds to win the North American Boxing Federation Lightweight Championship in May 1981, and he defended it two months later with a lopsided decision victory against future two-time World Boxing Council Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Ramirez.

After twenty consecutive wins, Mancini challenged WBC Lightweight Champion Alexis Arguello on October 3, 1981. Mancini, the WBC's No. 3-ranked contender, gave Arguello all he could handle. After ten rounds, the fight was even on the official scorecards. It was then that the more experienced champion took over, and he stopped the challenger in round fourteen.

"It was the best fight so far this year, my friend," Arguello said to Mancini after the fight. He then told the press, "I think my heart is special. But his heart is bigger than I have." The defeated challenger said, "This isn't the end of the story. This is the standard first chapter. I'll be back."

After defeating Mancini, Arguello said, "Someday this young man will be champion." That day came seven months and five days later when Mancini challenged World Boxing Association Lightweight Champion Arturo Frias. Less than thirty seconds into the fight, during an exchange in the center of the ring, Frias staggered Mancini with a left hook to the chin. Frias moved in for the finish, and the two furiously traded punches. Mancini suffered a cut on his left eyelid, and Frias was cut under his left eye. With less than a minute remaining in the round, Mancini wobbled Frias with a left hook. He followed up with a barrage of punches and dropped the champion with another left hook. After Frias rose and took the mandatory eight-count, Mancini backed him to the ropes and battered him until the referee stopped the fight. The time of the stoppage was 2:54. It was one of the most spectacular first rounds in boxing history.

Mancini dedicated the fight to his father. "I'm going to do it for you, Dad," he told his father before the fight. Afterward, the new champion said, "It's the greatest thing for him to share this with me. The belt is finally where it belongs after forty years."

Mancini's first title defense was against former WBA Lightweight Champion Ernesto Espana in July 1982. The fight took place in Warren, Ohio, which is just sixteen miles from Mancini's hometown of Youngstown. Before a crowd of more than 17,000, Mancini won by a sixth-round TKO. Following the win, Mancini appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Mancini's next title defense would change both his life and the face of boxing. On November 13, 1982, he met South Korean challenger Deuk-Koo Kim at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kim was ranked No. 1 by the WBA, but he was a huge underdog. He surprised a lot of people by giving Mancini a very tough fight. Mancini finally wore down the challenger and stopped him in the fourteenth round. Kim suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma. After undergoing a 2½-hour operation to remove a blood clot from his brain, Kim was placed on a respirator to keep him breathing. He died on November 17, five days after the fight.

A picture of Mancini and Kim battling appeared on the cover of the November 22 issue Sports Illustrated under the headline "Tragedy In The Ring." As the magazine went to press, Kim had not yet died. It was reported that Kim "had almost no remaining brain function" and "was being maintained by a life-support system."

There were reports that Kim had starved and dehydrated himself to make the lightweight limit and thus set the stage for his death. But Dr. Flip Homansky, who conducted the weigh-in, said nothing was wrong with Kim prior to the fight.

Mancini fell into a deep depression and was counseled by Father Tim O'Neill, a priest whom Mancini had known since his high school days in Youngstown. O'Neill offered a Mass in a ballroom at the Tropicana Hotel on the morning after the fight for Mancini's family and the fans who had come to Vegas for the fight. The services were dedicated to Kim.

There was a memorial service held for Kim in Las Vegas before his body was flown back to Korea. Mancini sent flowers and a telegram in which he called Kim "a brave and dignified champion who will always be in our thoughts and prayers." Mancini later flew to Korea to attend Kim's funeral.

As Mancini stepped off the plane in Korea, the first thing someone asked him was if he was the man who killed Deuk-Koo Kim. He has been asked that question many times over the years. Some people have even asked him how it feels to actually kill someone.

"He died once, and I felt I was dying every day," Mancini said years later. "When you're a fighter, you develop a respect for your opponent and I had all the respect in the world for this guy. I just wanted to win the fight. I never wanted to see him hurt. It was devastating."

"He was never the same fighter," promoter Bob Arum said of Mancini. "He just didn't have the thing that made him who he was. He was never as aggressive. He never threw the punches with the reckless abandon that he used to. He was shaken to his core."

Major change came to boxing soon after Kim’s death. On December 9, 1982, the World Boxing Council announced that it was reducing the number of rounds in their championship fights from fifteen to twelve. The WBA followed suit in 1987, and the International Boxing Federation, which was founded a year after the Mancini-Kim fight, had boxing's last fifteen-round championship fight in 1988.

Mancini returned to the ring in February 1983, traveling to Italy to win a ten-round decision in a non-title bout against British Lightweight Champion George Feeney. "With everything that happened, I was under a lot of pressure," Mancini said. "I'm very happy it's over, very relieved."

In September 1983, Mancini defended the title with a ninth-round TKO of Orlando Romero. Four months later, he defended the title again with a third-round stoppage of WBC Super Featherweight Champion Bobby Chacon.

On June 1, 1984, in his fifth title defense, Mancini was stopped in fourteen rounds by Livingstone Bramble. Mancini, who was badly cut during the fight, was ahead on two of the three official scorecards at the time of the stoppage. Mancini went to the hospital afterwards and got eight stitches in one eyelid and six stitches in the other.

Bramble and Mancini had a rematch on February 16, 1985. After fifteen rounds, Bramble was awarded a unanimous decision victory. All three judges had Bramble winning by just one point. Once again, Mancini was badly cut during the fight. He required twenty-seven stitches to close four cuts.

On August 23, 1985, Mancini held a press conference and announced his retirement from boxing at the age of twenty-four. His manager, Dave Wolf, said Mancini earned over $6 million during his career. "He's walking out a healthy kid, in one piece and a multi-millionaire," Wolf said.

Mancini made two comebacks before retiring for good. In March 1989, he fought Hector Camacho for the vacant inaugural World Boxing Organization Junior Welterweight Championship and lost by a twelve-round split decision. Four years and one month later, he fought Greg Haugen for the vacant NABF Super Lightweight Championship and was stopped in seven rounds.

Mancini left boxing with a record of 29-5, with 23 knockouts.

He remains very accessible to his fans and loves taking photos, conversing with them and signing autographs.


Mancini in 2013 at the L.A. premiere of The Good Son
  • Mancini was president of his senior class at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio, and had a scholarship offer to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • On February 14, 1981, Lenny Mancini Jr., Ray's older brother, died from a gunshot wound to the head. His seventeen-year-old girlfriend said she accidentally shot him when he was showing her how to use the gun. She later pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and was remanded to the custody of the Ohio Youth Commission.
  • While Mancini was training for the Frias fight in Tuscon, Arizona, the police got a call from a chambermaid who worked at the hotel where Mancini was staying and were told that three men with guns showed up at the hotel looking for Mancini. The men asked the chambermaid for the location of Mancini's room, and she pretended not to know. The men then got in a car and left. When Mancini learned of the incident, he moved his training camp to Las Vegas, Nevada, and trained with police surveillance until the fight. Neither the aim nor identities of the men were ever discovered.
  • A TV movie about Mancini, Heart of a Champion: The Ray Mancini Story, was televised by CBS on May 1, 1985.
  • After retiring from boxing, Mancini became an actor and formed a film company, Boom Boom Productions. His projects include a remake of the classic 1947 boxing movie Body and Soul. Mancini produced the movie and starred in the lead role.
  • Singer Warren Zevon wrote a song about Mancini titled "Boom Boom Mancini." It appeared on his 1987 album Sentimental Hygiene.
  • Mancini formed a cigar company called Boom Boom El Campeon.
  • Mancini formed a mail-order wine distributorship called Southpaw Wine.
  • Mancini is an honorary board member of the National Veterans Foundation and the Retired Boxers Foundation.
  • In 2011, Mancini traveled to South Korea and met Duek-Koo Kim's son, Jiwan Kim, a dentist who never had a chance to meet his father. "It's not your fault," Jiwan Kim told Mancini. "You don't need to live with guilt."
  • Mark Kriegel wrote a book about Mancini titled The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. It was published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 2012. A 2013 documentary of the same name was based on the book and produced by Mancini.
  • Mancini and his first wife, Carmen Consuelo Vazquez, had three children.
  • On May 18, 2014, Mancini married Tina Rozzi. They first met when Mancini was twenty and Rozzi was fifteen.
  • Mancini was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015.

External Links

Preceded by:
Arturo Frias
WBA Lightweight Champion
1982 May 8 – 1984 Jun 1
Succeeded by:
Livingstone Bramble