Ray Boom Boom Mancini was the real-life Rocky. A tough-as-nails fighter from a tough city. Boom Boom won the World Lightweight Title in 1982. Tragedy struck later that year when he knocked out Duk Koo Kim in a title defense. Kim never regained consciousness.
Boom Boom and I grew up in Youngstown, OH, in the South Side. Ray lived in the Lansingville neighborhood and I lived adjacent in Pleasant Grove. We had a few mutual friends. It was through them that I got to meet him.
I saw him work out. Ray trained harder than anyone I knew. He wasn’t a gifted fighter by any means, he won by sheer, brutal force of will. He got to the top level by working harder at it than anyone else. Ray was all heart. We loved him in Youngstown.
A few months ago my good friend John Ruble sent me Ray’s Biography. It’s a beautiful story about fathers and sons, drive and championships, loss and redemption. It’s a testament to the human spirit. Thanks John for sending me this great book.