Site Editor note: Over the next several weeks and months, our very own Italian American writer Vito Trabucco, will be bring Doghouse readers a new column that will pay tribute to some of the great Italian and Italian American fighters that have graced boxing rings throughout the world. So sit back, get a good glass of Vino, and put on one of your old Frank Sinatra records while you read this hot new column. By the way, what do Francis Ford Coppola and Vito Trabucco have in common? They both are Italian American Movie Directors. Vito never one to brag, (Yeah right), has a website that Doghouse readers can visit to find out more about his movies by clicking here: http://www.othersidecinema.com
Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
Mancini, A True Warrior
By Vito Trabucco
“But the name of the game is be hit and hit back.”
-Warren Zevon, from the song “Boom Boom Mancini”
Ray Mancini is one of the last great “tough guys” of our sport, from the days when fighters still fought 15 rounds, and fans wouldn’t accept anything less than a slugfest. You can always guarantee that when Mancini fought, you got your money’s worth. This tribute is to a former Lightweight Champion who should never be forgotten.
Mancini was born on March 4, 1961 in Youngstown, Ohio. His father Lenny, was also a top ranked fighter in the 1940’s but was halted due to an injury during World War II.
Lenny was to be Ray’s inspiration as he began a successful young career earning himself the nickname “Boom Boom” because of his whirlwind boxing style early on and would not change much throughout his boxing career.
Ray would capture victories over notable fighters such as Norman Goins and Jose Luis Ramirez. The Ramirez fight was a tough battle, but after 12 rounds, Mancini was declared the winner by a unanimous decision, and he was only one step away from realizing his father's dream, a dream he had taken upon himself to realize; to become a World Champion.
His first shot was against the legendary “Explosive Thin Man” Alexis Arguello. Ring Magazine and ESPN called it one of the best fights of the 1980’s. And although Mancini gave Arguello trouble, the more experienced champion used that experience to his advantage and took out the challenger in 14 rounds. Mancini was saddened by his first defeat, but not about to give up on his dream and his father‘s dream.
6 months later he got another chance. This time it was against then Lightweight Champion Arturo Frias. Until Hagler/Hearns this was considered the greatest single round in boxing history by many. 15 seconds into the fight, the fast starting champion caught Mancini with a right to the chin and Mancini shook. Another combination made Mancini start bleeding from his eyebrow. Mancini would not let another Alexis Arguello fight occur. He stormed back and dropped the champion right into the center of the ring with a spectacular combination. Shocked and surprised, Frias got back up, but Mancini went after his prey with a vengeance as Arguello did to him in his first title attempt. Mancini was on top of Frias the moment the referee continued it, and trapped him against the ropes. After many unanswered blows, the referee stopped the fight. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was Lightweight Champion of the World.
November 13th, 1982. Mancini’s second title defense was against the game Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim. It would later become one of the greatest in ring tragedies we’ve ever seen. From the opening bell, both fighters unleashed on one another with great fury. And neither man backed down. The fight was close all the way to the start of the 14th round. Mancini came out and immediately caught Kim right on the chin sending him to the canvas. The fight was stopped and Mancini was awarded the victory.
5 days later, Duk Koo Kim died from injuries sustained to the brain. Mancini went to the funeral in South, Korea and fell into a great depression. He was never really the same fighter again. To this day, from stories my Site Editor “ Bad” Brad Berkwitt told me about his tour in Seoul, Korea back in 2002, the country along with the boxing community, mourn the loss of their hero Kim to this very day.
After the Kim fight, the few great highlights of Boom Boom’s career was his stellar HBO performance against Bobby Chacon, and his noble effort in the Livingstone Bramble rematch where Ray said the now famous line to referee Mills Lane, “If you stop it, I’ll kill ya!” Although Ray lost a close decision that night, he showed us that his heart was has strong as his fists.
Mancini left the ring in 1993 with the record of 29-5 with 23 knockouts. He went on to do commercials, TV, and movies. He resides in Beverly Hills where he still pursues acting.
Well, I guess if you’re a young lady seeing him on TV, or an old man watching him on ESPN Classics, you got to admit, “Boom Boom” will always be a knockout.
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