The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Mark Kriegel. Free Press, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-8635-0
ESPN columnist and author Kriegel’s smoothly written biography tells the story of a rust belt hero whose boxing career was marred by tragedy in the ring. Raised in gritty Youngstown, Ohio, Ray grew up obsessed with the boxing legacy of his father, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini. The older Mancini had been a lightweight contender, but injuries suffered in WWII denied him his title shot. Ray dedicated his life to winning the championship that had eluded his father, and at age 21, succeeded. The feel-good story and Ray’s relentless fighting style put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated while bringing big endorsements and the friendship of Sylvester Stallone and Frank Sinatra. However, the death of the Korean fighter Duk Koo Kim at Ray’s hands created enormous controversy and shadowed Mancini for the following two decades. 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. Particularly gripping is the depiction of Youngstown as the factories closed and organized crime moved in. Kriegel isn’t a boxing insider and provides limited accounts of the sport and the fights that made Ray famous. However, as a saga of two families dealing with hardship and violent death, this boxing history is completely engaging. Agent: David Vigliano. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 09/18/2012
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7432-8636-7
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-4423-5584-2
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4516-7461-3
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