The Good Son by Mark Kriegel
The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini

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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.

About Mark Kriegel

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Mark Kriegel is the author of two critically acclaimed bestsellers, Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich. He is a veteran columnist and a commentator for the NFL Network. He lives with his daughter, Holiday, in Santa Monica, California.
Published September 18, 2012 by Free Press. 337 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author sketches some quick scenes of family history (the first arrived at Ellis Island in 1913), the early family struggles, his father’s promising boxing career (terminated by injuries in World War II) and Mancini’s rise in the amateur ranks.

May 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Good Son: The Life of Ray...

Publishers Weekly

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Kriegel draws a sweeping portrait of his central characters and the worlds they inhabited, from Lenny’s apprenticeship in the New York boxing scene of the 1930s to Duk Koo Kim’s impoverished upbringing in postwar Korea.

Jun 11 2012 | Read Full Review of The Good Son: The Life of Ray...

The Boston Globe

Arguello, who boasted a record of 67-5, was almost 6 inches taller than Mancini and yet for 13 scintillating rounds Mancini gave the future hall of famer all he could handle until he finally halted Mancini in the 14th.

Sep 28 2012 | Read Full Review of The Good Son: The Life of Ray...

Chicago Tribune

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini raises his hands in victory after defeating Arturo Frias in the WBA Lightweight Title match at the Aladdin Hotel on May 8, 1982 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Oct 16 2012 | Read Full Review of The Good Son: The Life of Ray...

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