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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest Boxing News & Rumors Today / Unforgettable – Ray Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim

Unforgettable – Ray Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim

Publish Date:11/10/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

I remember November 13, 1982. It was an exciting day. Boxing in the afternoon always was. Back then, it happened regularly. Live in Sin City at Caesars Palace.

The fight would be on CBS. Commentators were Tim Ryan, Gil Clancy, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Ryan was excellent. Clancy was a well-known trainer who had worked with welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith, contender Jerry Quarry, former heavyweight champion George Foreman, heavyweight Gerry Cooney, and later multi—division champion Oscar De La Hoya.

Ryan and Clancy, who had been working together since the 1970s, were a dynamic team.

“What made him (Clancy) the best, in my view, is because he was a trainer, he could see both guys at the same time,” Ryan said in a piece posted on www.badlefthook.com. “Most of us focus on one or the other, not the two of them at once. That’s why the audience, whether they were knowledgeable coming in or just passing by, learned a lot from Gil.”

WBA Lightweight champion Boom Boom Mancini was fighting leading contender Duk Koo Kim. His high ranking was a mystery. Kim was relatively unknown. Mancini was not. His story had captured the hearts of most boxing fans. Mancini had dedicated his career to his father, Lenny, a top-ranked fighter from the 1930s and 40s.

He even borrowed his dad’s nickname, “Boom Boom.”

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini captured the lightweight title with a first-round knockout over Arturo Frias in May 1982. The fight was two minutes of bombs thrown and landed. That was Mancini. He presented the belt to his dad.

Mancini was 21, Kim 23. South Korean Kim would be fighting for the second time out of his home country. His purse was 20,000. Mancini would make 250K. Kim was confident before the fight.

“Either he dies, or I die,” he reportedly told a Las Vegas reporter.

The fight was war from the opening bell. Mancini landed hard hooks consistently, but Kim fought back. And back. Mancini hurt his left hand in round three. There was no quit in either fighter. As the fight wore on, Mancini continued his onslaught, but not enough for referee Richard Green to call a halt to the fight. Kim would dig deep and find what he needed to stay in the fight.

Leonard said, “I really thought fatigue set in, then all of a sudden he (Kim) makes me change my mind.”

In round 13, Mancini pounded on Kim, only to have the challenger fight back. It was remarkable to see, but a tragic price was building.

Heading into round 14, Mancini was comfortably ahead on the scorecards by scores 127-121, 126-122 and 128-124. The fight was his, but the intensity continued. The war would not stop until one fighter was unable to continue. Mancini hit Kim with a shot to the body, followed by a right hand. Kim stumbled, and Mancini pounced. Another right felled Kim on his back. Kim valiantly tried to rise, but Greene waved the fight off.

Mancini celebrated, but not for long. Kim collapsed in his corner.

Hours later, he slipped into a coma and died four days later. The residual effects of the bout were devastating.

Kim’s mother and Greene committed suicide.

According To promoter Bob Arum, Mancini was never the same fighter.

Said Mancini, “He died once, and I felt I was dying every day. When you’re a fighter, you develop a respect for your opponent. I had all the respect in the world for this guy. I just wanted to win the fight. I never wanted to see him hurt.”

I was numb after. The excitement had long ceased.

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