Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini (born Raymond Michael Mancino; March 4, 1961) is a retired Italian-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. The nickname "Boom Boom" perfectly suited the younger Mancini's wild, "whirlwind," intense fighting style.
He was born in Youngstown, Ohio. Boxing played a prominent role in the Mancini family history. Mancini's father, Lenny Mancini (the original "Boom Boom"), was a top-ranked contender during the 1940s who was widely predicted to be a future world champion. Lenny Mancini's dream, however, was dashed when he was wounded during World War II. Although Lenny Mancini returned to boxing, limitations resulting from his injuries prevented him from fulfilling his potential.
Lenny inspired young Ray to develop his boxing skills and encouraged him to train at a gym when he was quite young. Ray had a stellar amateur career, and in 1978, he made the jump to the professional ranks. His whirlwind punching style caught the attention of network executives at several American television networks, and he became a regular on their sports programming. During this time Ray Mancini defeated some excellent boxers, including former United States champion Norman Goins.
His first attempt at a world title came in his next bout, when he was pitted against the legendary champion Alexis Argüello for his World Boxing Council lightweight title. The event was selected by many (including The Ring and ESPN) as one of the most spectacular fights of the 1980s. Mancini gave Arguello trouble early and built a lead on the scorecards, but Arguello used his experience to his advantage in the later rounds and stopped Mancini in the 14th round. Mancini was saddened by his first defeat, but not about to give up on his dream.
Winning WBA Title
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, the fast-starting champion caught Mancini with a left hook to the chin and Mancini shook. Another combination made Mancini start bleeding from his eyebrow. Mancini stormed back and dropped the champion right in the center of the ring with a spectacular combination. Dazed and surprised, Frias got back up, but Mancini went after his prey with a fury, and was on top of him the moment the referee said they could go on, trapping Frias against the ropes. After many unanswered blows, the referee stopped the fight, 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, and by fight time Kim was spent. 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 five 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 began the process of getting his life back together by once again putting on gloves. He went to Italy to face British champion George Feeney, a tough fighter from England. Mancini won a 10-round decision, but he was not the Ray Mancini of old.
He defended his title two more times. In a bout with former world champion Bobby Chacon, which was broadcast on HBO, the overmatched Chicano boxer lasted only three rounds. To fans at least, the old "Boom Boom" appeared to be back. Mancini, however, was making plans to get out of boxing to pursue a less violent trade: acting.
In June 1984, Mancini, still recovering from the emotional trauma of Kim's death, struggled to retain his title in a battle with Livingstone Bramble in Buffalo, New York. It was to be another Mancini "slugfest." This time, however, he came out on the losing end, defeated after 14 intense rounds. Mancini lost his title, but not before a fierce effort that resulted in an overnight stay at Millard Fillmore Hospital and 71 stitches around one eye.
Mancini was not finished, however. He returned to the ring twice to attempt to regain his world title. After a tenacious effort in a rematch with Bramble, Mancini lost the fight by one point on all three judges scorecards in a 15-round decision. His next attempt came in March 1989, when he lost to Héctor 'Macho' Camacho in a highly questionable split decision. Ray had one final fight in April 1992, against former lightweight champion Greg Haugen and was stopped in round seven.
Retirement and later work
Mancini retired officially in 1992, leaving a record of 29–5, with 23 knockouts. His legacy also included an inspirational story involving a young champion who had won the title as much for his family as for himself. The essence of this story was captured in a made-for-television movie based on Mancini's life, which aired in the 1980s.
More recently, Mancini realized his Hollywood dreams, appearing in as well as producing a handful of films. In addition, he gained new fans as a fight analyst for the Fox reality series, Celebrity Boxing. Mancini currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He owns the El Campeon Cigar Company and operates two movie production companies. He also owns a wine-tasting shop in his native Youngstown, OH. Mancini remains accessible and interactive with his fans.
Mancini practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is good friends with fellow jiu-jitsu practitioner and Youngstown native Ed O'Neill as well as Pulitzer Prize winner/Screenwriter/Director David Mamet. He appeared in Mamet's MMA film Redbelt.
Mancini produced Youngstown: Still Standing in 2010, which premiered at the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival on March 24. The documentary film featured his friend Ed O'Neill and included Jim Cummings, Kelly Pavlik, Jay Williams, Andrea Wood and Mancini himself, among many other Youngstown natives and locals. John Chechitelli – another Youngstown native – directed and edited the 89-minute long film. It recounts the history of Youngstown, Ohio from its founding in 1797 to the present.
Mancini is available for Live Video Appearances via SpiffBox.