There are stories in sports that will never be forgotten. Now, for one of the greatest of them all, years later, a new chapter has been written.
Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was once the most famous sports figure in America, a man who captivated the public with a remarkable personal tale, and a fighter electrified anyone who saw him box through his courage in the ring. But everything changed – for Mancini, and his story – on November 13, 1982, in the 26th bout of his career, against a challenger from South Korea named Duk Koo Kim.
30 years after that fight, critically-acclaimed bestselling author Mark Kriegel (Namath, Pistol) is revisiting the life of Mancini in the highly-anticipated upcoming biography The Good Son. And a documentary film also entitled “The Good Son,” timed to the release of the book, will reveal new, never-before-seen details and developments in the stories of both Mancini and Kim.
The documentary begins with the classic tale of Mancini, driven to win a world title for his father, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, once a top- ranked lightweight who lost his best chance at a championship when he was drafted into the army during World War II. The younger Mancini turns professional at age 18, and lives his dream of winning the world championship at 21. He is a superstar for the television age, with a story perfectly tailored for Saturday afternoons on CBS. Then, six months after winning the title, he fights a mandated challenger from Korea named Duk Koo Kim.
Kim comes from the bottom of Korean society, born dirt-poor in a fishing village, raised by a mother who bounced from one man’s household to another to support her family. But he makes two discoveries as a young man: boxing, and a beautiful upper-class woman who he falls in love with, and who inspires him to fight with a passion and courage that takes him all the way to a shot at Mancini’s title.
The clash of the two men who know not how to retreat in the ring turns into a fight no one who sees it will ever forget. In the 14th round, Mancini finally stops Kim with a straight right hand, and immediately after the bell rings, Korean lapses into a coma. He’ll never wake up; five days later, Kim’s mother, flown in from Korea, authorizes doctors to unhook her son from life support.
Months later, Kim’s mother kills herself out of grief. A few months after that, referee Richard Green commits suicide as well. And as for Mancini, his career is forever altered; he is never the same fighter, and his focus soon turns to an acting career. The fateful tale of that night in Las Vegas passes into history.
But several months after the bout, back in Korea, Young Mi, Duk Koo Kim’s fiancé, gives birth to a son, the son of Duk Koo Kim. His name is Ji Wan, and he will live his life having never met his father.
Now, in “The Good Son,” Ji Wan and Young Mi are interviewed on screen for the very first time. And, thirty years after the bout that changed his life forever, Ray Mancini will come face to face with the Duk Koo Kim’s son, in a riveting encounter in Los Angeles. It’s all part of a compelling and ultimately redemptive documentary tale of courage, heartbreak, and family.
Featuring appearances by every major character in the story, as well as stars and longtime Mancini friends Mickey Rourke, Ed O’Neill, and others, “The Good Son” promises to be an emotional, extraordinary, and unforgettable film – for fans in both the United States, and South Korea; and for viewers who both are reliving the story, and hearing it for the first time.
“The Good Son” premieres later this year.