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MANCINI-KIM TRAGEDY 25 YEARS AGO


PhilBoxing.com




Twenty-five years ago on the sunny Las Vegas afternoon of November 13, 1982, a tragic fight would change the lives of two fighters and the future of boxing.

Born Raymond Michael "Ray" Mancini, he is from Youngstown, Ohio, and the son of an Italian father and an Irish mother. Mancini inherited his unique nickname, "Boom Boom", from his father, the veteran boxer Lennie "Boom Boom" Mancini.

Duk Koo Kim was on a 12-fight winning streak when he met Mancini, but many feel the Korean fighter wasn't fit for the confrontation. Boom Boom?s dominance over the unproven Kim was clear and his advantage only increased when Kim had to toil extremely exhausting himself just to get his weight down to the 135-pound limit.

The fight was brutal round after round. Kim retaliated when battered by Mancini?s wild punches. Referee Richard Greene could not justify stopping the vicious exchange of blows, even in the 13th round, when Mancini shook Kim continually with 40 unanswered blasts.

Kim was brave enough and refused to surrender until early in the 14th round when Boom Boom hit him with a body blow and a right hand on the nose. Now dizzy, Kim stumbled backward and was hit by a second combination, then latter a straight right hand that drove him to the canvas.

Greene finally stopped the fight with Kim struggling to get up. He collapsed in his corner right after the fight had been stopped and was lifted from the ring on a stretcher. He then fell into a coma and would never awaken, dying five days later at the Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas.

Mancini went to the funeral in South Korea, but he was in deep distress afterwards. He has said that the toughest moment was when every time he was asked if he was the boxer who "killed" Kim. Mancini blamed himself for Kim's death. In addition, Kim's mother committed suicide four months after the fight, as did the bout's referee Greene in July 1983.

Boxing was never the same with the WBC promptly deciding 15-round fights were too dangerous and reducing the championship limit to 12. Later the WBA and IBF followed and by the time the WBO was formed in 1988, 12 rounds were the standard. Rounds 13, 14 and 15 had been judged the lethal rounds for Kim.

Mancini, at 46, now an independent film producer and the owner of a cigar manufacturing company who now lives in Beverly Hills, California, is haunted without end by the tragic memory. "The rest of my life, I'm not just Ray Mancini, I'm Ray Mancini, the guy who killed Duk Koo Kim," he said.



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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