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Collected Wisdom: Ray 'Boom, Boom' Mancini, former world champion boxer

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and was a childhood friend of University of Oklahoma football coaches Bob and Mike Stoops.
by Ed Godfrey Published: January 19, 2013

He never talked bad about it because he wanted to defend his country. I always heard about how my father could've been, would've been, should've been a world champion. That's why I wanted to win the world title for him. That's the only reason I became a fighter.

He was hit by mortar shell (in the war) and was basically left for dead. Eventually, one of his comrades picked him up and carried him to safety. He lost so much blood, they didn't think he'd live, and they were certain he'd never walk, because there was so much shrapnel in his body. He was certain he'd never fight, but he eventually came back to fight. He still beat some good guys, but he never got that opportunity (for a title fight).

My father was given that name (Boom Boom) in 1939 by a commentator in Brooklyn. This guy said my father keeps throwing punches all the time. Boom, boom, all the time. I was Boom Boom before I was a fighter. I was Baby Boom Boom. It stuck with me since day one.

The high point of my career was winning the world title. There's nothing that could beat that. I accomplished my lifelong dream. To do that was euphoric. You can't describe it. Next to that, it was my first title defense in (Warren) Ohio in front of 20,000 people. At that time in 1982, we were at 28 percent unemployment and for the people to come out and support me like they did, it was incredible.

I made peace with the death of the Korean fighter relatively quickly. My whole life I've been able to deal with things. I meet them head on and then I get past them.

It was a very difficult time. I was very popular on TV at the time. We had numerous commercial activities in the works, but after that, everything went away. I was hurt, but of course I understand now.

Of course, you go through a depression. I didn't go through anything where I couldn't get out of bed. I just had a sadness and a heavy heart for a long time. You get through that as long as you are moving forward. You have to do that.

People say I fought differently after that. Even people in my camp said that. I don't know. I knocked other guys out when I had them hurt. I didn't back off. I still fought with the same intensity.

Before that fight, I fought for righteous reasons. I wanted to win for my father and my city. After that fight, there was nothing righteous about it for me. It took the love away for me. I didn't have the passion for it. That's the main difference. I still prepared hard and did everything I was supposed to do but I questioned things that I never did before.

A fighter of my style is not made for a long career. The one thing I'm most proud of is that I can still spell fight. I say that jokingly because so many guys can't. You got to know when to shut it down.

Network television has to get back into the game (of boxing). Without network television, (boxing) will never return (to the popularity it once had). With pay per view, the audience has gone way down.

On a regular basis, MMA is kicking boxing's behind. But for the world title fights, boxing will always be No 1.

I've never been to Oklahoma before. Who would've thought that they'd become the superpower of basketball? Who would've thunk that? Me and my sons are big fans of OKC. I love (Russell) Westbrook, and (Kevin) Durant is the biggest player in the game right now. To see what these guys are doing is tremendous.

I'm in the entertainment business now, focusing on producing. I've been out here going on 28 years. I'm producing and acting. I've done over 18 films. I just recently got done doing a play, some stage work, which I really enjoy, but mainly focusing on my producing.

I enjoy acting. I enjoy producing more. I play street guys because I am a street guy. You stick with what you know but you don't wanna say that's all you do. It's always interesting to play street guys because these characters are colorful. I grew up a street guy and you always got to stick to what you know.

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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