Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini is a retired American boxer. He held the World Boxing Association lightweight championship from 1982 to 1984. Mancini inherited his distinctive nickname from his father, veteran boxer Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, who laid the foundation for his son’s career.
On May 8, 1982, in a match held in Las Vegas, he challenged the new World Boxing Association lightweight champion, Arturo Frias. Fifteen seconds into the fight, Frias caught Mancini with a left hook to the chin. Another combination made Mancini start bleeding from his eyebrow. Mancini recovered and dropped Frias right in the center of the ring with a combination. Dazed, Frias got back up but Mancini went on the offensive and was on top of Frias the moment the referee said they could go on. Mancini trapped Frias against the ropes. After many unanswered blows, the referee stopped the fight at 2:54 in the first round, and the Mancini family finally had a world champion.
Mancini’s first defense, against former world champion Ernesto España, went smoothly with a Mancini knockout win in the 6th round.
His next defense would change both his life and the face of boxing: On November 13, 1982, a 21-year-old Mancini met 23-year-old South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim. Kim had to go through the process of losing several pounds immediately before the fight to make the weight. The title bout, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, was televised live at 1pm PST on CBS Sports. It was, according to many observers, a fight filled with action, but Mancini had an easy time hitting Kim during the 14 rounds the fight lasted. Kim suffered brain injuries that led to his death four days later. The week after his death, the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine showed Mancini and Kim battling, under the title “Tragedy in the Ring”.
Mancini went to the funeral in South Korea, but he fell into a deep depression afterwards. He has said that the hardest moments came when people approached him and asked if he was the boxer who “killed” Duk Koo Kim. Mancini went through a period of reflection, as he blamed himself for Kim’s death. In addition, Kim’s mother committed suicide four months after the fight, and the bout’s referee, Richard Green, killed himself in July 1983.
As a result of this bout, the WBC took steps to shorten its title bouts to a maximum of 12 rounds. The WBA and WBO followed in 1988, and the IBF in 1989.
Mancini retired officially in 1985, but continued to fight unofficially until 1992, leaving a record of 29–5, with 23 knockouts. A made-for-television movie based on Mancini’s life aired in the 1980s. The former champion was able to keep 75 percent of his $12 million in purse money, which enabled him to pursue a broad range of interests in retirement.
Mancini appeared in and produced a handful of films, and became a fight analyst for the Fox reality series Celebrity Boxing. Mancini, who as of 2007 resides in Los Angeles, California, owns the El Campeon Cigar Company and operates two movie production companies. He also owns a wine-tasting shop in his native Youngstown, Ohio.