Mancini-Kim: Beyond the brink

ray mancini09.11.07 - By Ted Sares: I am always amazed at how many people forget about this savage battle. I say savage because it was not a one-sided beat down as many have been led to believe, though Mancini landed an inordinate amount of head shots throughout the fight. I saw it “live” on TV on November 13, 1982 (though I cannot recall where I was at the time).

Deuk Koo Kim was 17-1-1 at the time and had fought all but one of his fights in Seoul, South Korea. He needed to lose several pounds before the fight to make the weight and many claimed he was dehydrated going in. Ray Boom Boom Mancini was 24-1 at the time and was the World Boxing Association lightweight title holder.

The fight featured incredible give and take action early on with Kim showing heart and courage. However, by the twelfth round, he was showing signs of fatigue as he began to stumble at times. The thirteenth round began with Boom Boom pummeling the game South Korean and it appeared the end was near, but incredibly, Kim rallied with his own big shots thus nullifying any notion of stopping the action. The crowd roared its approval for both combatants as the round ended. These were two gamecocks going at it non-stop. Ray had suffered a cut over one eye and one of Kim’s eyes was swollen.

Deuk Koo KimBy the fourteenth stanza, Kim was spent and Mancini attacked immediately. After missing two lethal shots, he floored him with a straight right from hell. Somehow, Kim got up, but he was done. He staggered back to his corner and onto his stool.

As Ray celebrated his hard-earned win in the ring, one could tell something was not right in Kim’s corner as his seconds were motioning wildly and there was a sense of urgency. Even Ray seemed to sense that something was not quite right. As it turned out, Deuk Koo Kim had sustained brain injuries and then lapsed into a coma. He died a few days later in a nearby hospital.

The aftermath of this tragic bout (with its many twists and turns) is the stuff of screenplays, but that’s where I want to go on this, the 25th Anniversary of the fight. No, this is about two very game fighters who took it beyond the brink; sadly, only one came back. This is about giving both their due.

The story goes that Kim, in an eerie premonition, proclaimed in a note prior to the fight: “Kill or be killed.” If so (and I have never corroborated this), it played out that way.

Article posted on 11.11.2007

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