Hundreds come out for book signing of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini's - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Hundreds come out for book signing of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini's biography

BOARDMAN, Ohio - More than 500 people waited in line at Barnes and Noble Thursday night for the book signing of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini's biography.

The story of this lightweight championship boxer's life is still drawing fans decades after his career in the sport.

"One could see Sinatra transfixed; his admiration palpable." Author Mark Kriegel reads an opening scene from his book "The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini."

Ray Mancini was not only a local hero in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio in the 80s when he won the lightweight championship title in boxing, he was a national icon representing the thousands of people in similar towns where the steel mills were closing.

"You've heard me say this through the years and I truly mean this, the people here in Youngstown have a large part of my success," Mancini said.

It was 30 years ago when "Boom Boom" won the lightweight championship title in 1982, but people here in Youngstown remember. They showed up in full force for the book signing.

"Just to support him and let him know he's still loved in his hometown," said Marge Reves, a local fan, who came to the signing.

"It's great being home and seeing all the people and all the people I've known through the years," Mancini said.

The book focuses on Mancini's life through the lens of fathers and sons. Mancini fought for his father, Lenny, the original "Boom Boom", who was a boxer but never took the championship title after being wounded in World War II. Mancini, who took on his name "Boom Boom," won it for him.

"I wanted to write this book because I have more than an abiding interest in fathers and sons. My own father got polio in 1944, the same year that Ray's father was wounded in France. I consider us both, despite our obvious differences; I'm from New York City he's from Youngstown, I'm the son of an English professor he's the son of a fighter, I'm Jewish he's Italian, I consider us both almost kin in that we were both trying to please and in a sense redeem wounded heroic fathers," Kriegel said.

One of Ray's three children, Leonardo, was at the book signing and talked about boxing.

"I never wanted to get into fighting. I'm a huge fan of boxing, but my dad won the championship. There was no need to fight," Leonardo said.

Ray said both of his sons say they're proud of him but want to make their names in other fields.

The book discusses the Duk Koo Kim fight in which the fighter died from his injuries. Ray said he relied on his faith to get through it. "I made peace with it and moved on, unfortunately not everyone else did," Ray said.

The fight still comes up to this day and people have talked about it to his kids. The author says it's something Ray and his ex-wife discussed. "They decided the best way to do it was to tell the truth and to let the children see the fight for themselves; as tough as that may be, that the truth was better than any sort of excuse or lie," Kriegel said.

The book ends with a reunion between Duk Koo Kim's fiancé, Kim's son, and Ray, which is also part of a new documentary.

According to the book, the Mancini children and Ed O'Neil were also at the dinner. The documentary will be screened to an invite-only audience in Youngstown on Friday.

When asked about the title, Kriegel said, "I like to think it came from USA Today where he (Ray) said something to the effect of that's all I wanted to be, a good son and he was talking specifically about after winning this title to be able to put his mom and dad on business class and first class to Italy to the ancestral home of Bagheria. He said I knew essentially that I had done my job. I was a good son."

In the beginning, Ray did not like the title. "I said Mark, I had a brother. What does that make him, the bad son? I said I don't like that, I don't like the title. He said it was something you said in an interview and when he told me the story I said OK, now I get it," Mancini said.

Another native of the Mahoning Valley and fellow boxer, Randy Stephens, came out to see the man he trained alongside.

Stephens, who grew up in Braceville, roomed with Mancini in New York. Stephens fought for two cruiserweight world titles and sparred with Muhammad Ali.

Larry Stephens, brother of Randy Stephens, said, "They went through a lot of wars together as you heard. That he (Randy) was there when Ray found out about his brother and so they had a lot of miles together. When we heard Ray was coming to the area, I knew Ray would be excited to see him," Stephens said.

Randy Stephens said, "So you know we had some good times. He was a tough little kid. I got a lot just looking at him."

Mancini said at the book signing that Stephens helped get him through a tough time; when he found out his brother, Lenny Jr., was killed in 1981. That happened before Ray won the championship.

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