ESPN Classic’s Triumph and Tragedy: The Ray Mancini Story

ray manciniOn the 25th anniversary of the tragic Ray Mancini – Deuk-Koo Kim fight, ESPN Classic presents Triumph and Tragedy: The Ray Mancini Story, a documentary on the life of Ray Mancini, including Kim’s death four days after collapsing in the ring, Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. ET.

In the World Boxing Association lightweight title fight Nov. 13, 1982, Mancini delivered a knockout blow in the 14th round that ended the fight and sent Kim to the hospital. Kim was brain dead and four days later he was removed from life support. In Korea, Kim became a larger-than-life figure in death. Overcome by grief, his mother committed suicide 11 weeks after her son’s death. Mancini was devastated and, until now, has not given an extended interview on the fight and Kim’s subsequent death.

The documentary also includes highlights of the 13th and 14th rounds, the first time footage from those fateful rounds will be replayed anywhere. In the 13th round, Mancini landed 39 unanswered punches but Kim kept moving forward the entire time and finished the round with some flurries of his own. Mancini knocked out Kim in the14th round, but Kim got up and went to his corner before collapsing on the stool.

Mancini cooperated fully with the production of Triumph and Tragedy: The Ray Mancini Story. The program, narrated by actor Stacy Keach, includes interviews and footage shot in Las Vegas, the site of the fight, as well as South Korea, where ESPN Classic crews talked with Kim’s friends and associates.

The documentary will include interviews with many witnesses to the event, including the ring physician, who first attended to Kim, as well as the neurosurgeon who operated on him. The program will also include candid testimony from boxing historians and Mancini’s friends and family.

Mancini was raised in Youngstown, Ohio, a thriving steel town in his youth. By the 70’s, when Ray began his quest for a title, Youngstown’s economy had collapsed. The inhabitants looked beyond their city’s vacant factories and mills for a sign of hope. They found it in a favorite son.

Mancini was the son of former lightweight contender, the original “Boom Boom,” Lenny Mancini, who was poised for a title shot as the United States entered World War II. Lenny was drafted and later injured in battle, his title dreams left unfulfilled. Obsessed with the tales of his father’s career, and with his heart set on vindication, Ray dedicated himself to winning a championship for Lenny.

His career was nearly derailed when his older brother was shot and killed in February of 1981. After losing to WBC lightweight champion Alexis Arguello in November of that year, Mancini was given a second title shot eight months later against WBA champ Arturo Frias. Live on national television with his father at ringside, Ray knocked out Frias in the first round. After four decades of waiting, the Mancini family finally had a championship belt.

In his second title defense, 25 years ago, he fought a brutal battle against Kim, who, in an eerie premonition, proclaimed prior to the fight: “Kill or be killed.”

SportsCenter will air two Ray Mancini Story-related pieces on the Friday 1 a.m. show (Thursday, 10 p.m. PT) which runs throughout Friday morning. Additionally, SportsCenter will devote the final half hour of Friday’s 90-minute 6 p.m. show to Triumph and Tragedy content.

Outside the Lines (3 p.m. M-F) will run a Ray Mancini- related story Sunday, 9:30 a.m. on ESPN and noon on ESPNEWS.

Article posted on 08.11.2007

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