It would be wrong to consider former light weight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini a killer, but back when I first heard of him that’s exactly what came to mind. I was uneducated when it came to boxing, so naturally when Mario told me the story of “Boom Boom” the murder switch clicked on. So, you can only imagine what kind of thoughts that rushed through my mind when I caught a close glimpse of Mr. Mancini himself at a romantic Italian restaurant.
It has been nearly two years since I had my run in with Boom Boom. Mario had taken me to a beautiful little Italian restaurant in downtown Ft.Lauderdale just to spend a romantic evening alone with me. The night started out like a usual date would, we sat at our dimly lit table as the waiter went over the evening’s specials. We ordered our dinner, drank wine, and appreciated our silent surroundings. It was a nice change from the cries I heard all day at home with then baby London.
We held a casual conversation and Mario caught a glimpse of a familiar looking man that sat at the table directly next to us. I saw him ponder a bit and noticed his eyes widen when he realized who this man was. “Babe!” I remember jumping slightly to his excited call. “That’s Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini!” I was bewildered. “Who?” Mario was slightly disappointed to know that I had no idea who he was, but then remembered that I’m not exactly a boxing guru. “He was a light weight boxer in the 80’s. He killed a guy.” My heart sank. Nervously, I looked to my left and saw what seemed like an incredibly easy going man and his female companion. “Are you sure? He doesn’t look like he is very capable of even harming a fly.” Mario grinned and guaranteed that it was him. I ate dinner very quietly that evening. Every once in a while, I would glimpse over at this man and wonder how he could kill some one. I know it was accidental, but how? And how does he live with it? Was he punished for it in any way or was it over looked because it’s just “part of the sport”? Mario looked at me very concerned, because for me to remain so silent for so long is a clear inclination that something very serious is on my mind. “What’s wrong?” I didn’t want to say a word. I didn’t want “Boom Boom” to hear any of my comments and then go after Mario, or even worse… me.
By now, we had both finished eating our dinner and I was ready to go home. After the bill had been paid and the tip was left for the waiter, I quickly got up from my table and was on my way out. It seems as though that I was a bit too eager to leave and with a quick swish of my hand bag, Ray Mancini’s bottle of red wine had been knocked over on his table. My mouth dropped and I completely panicked. Mario rushed over and picked up the open bottle. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I think Mr. Mancini sensed my absolute horror and embarrassment and he smiled. A panicked “I’m so sorry!” escaped from my lips. He smiled again and assured me that it was alright. I left the restaurant completely mortified.
Upon arrival to our home, Mario and I hopped on the internet to search for recent photos of Boom Boom to verify that it was in fact him that we saw at the restaurant, as well as do research on the fight that caused the kill. First stop was Wikipedia. I wanted to know the whole story before I saw if I was really sitting next to a murdering boxer. It turned out to be an incredibly emotional story and made me feel deep sympathy for Mancini. On November 13, 1982, Mancini was facing a South Korean challenger named Duk Koo Kim. Kim had to loose a few pounds to make the fight, and in doing so, became dehydrated. By fight time, Kim had made his weight, but was spent. The fight was filled with action, but Mancini had an easy time hitting Kim throughout the 14 rounds that the fight lasted. Kim sustained brain injuries that led to his death 5 days later. Mancini attended the funeral and fell into a deep depression. Times became harder for Mancini when people randomly approached him and asked if he was Kim’s ‘killer’. Mancini completely blamed himself for Kim’s death. Four months after Kim’s death, his mother committed suicide, as did the match’s referee, Richard Green.
After feeling like a complete jerk for thinking of this man as a murderer, we then googled his name for recent photos. To my surprise and Mario’s certainty, it was Mr. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini himself. I knocked over a boxing champions wine and lived to tell about it!