The life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini is tragic.
The former world lightweight champion, who shared a nickname with his father, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, was one of the most exciting and successful boxers of his time. He ended his career with a record of 29-5, including 23 knockouts.
But along with Mancini’s success came a great deal of misfortune. His role model father was nearly killed in 1944 by fragments of German mortar shell; his brother was shot and died in the 1980s.
The biggest tragedy came during Mancini’s 1982 boxing match against South Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim.
The title fight was broadcasted on CBS Sports; it ended in the 14th round with a right-handed punch that knocked out Kim.
Five days later, Kim died from brain injuries suffered during the bout.
The tragedy led to a series of even more unfortunate events. Kim’s grieving mother committed suicide months after the death of her son. Richard Green, the referee in the Mancini-Kim fight, also killed himself months later.
Mancini placed the blame on himself. Although he continued to fight, he never was able to realize his full potential.
“Ray admits that (fight) stole the passion and the love he had he had for boxing,” said co-producer of The Good Son and Kelowna native, Adam Scorgie.
The Good Son is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. It focuses on Mancini’s dream of winning a world title for his father and how his career came crashing down after the fight with Kim.
A made-for-TV movie about Mancini aired in the 1980s; however, according to The Good Son director Jesse James Miller, his documentary goes much more in-depth and explores topics Mancini wasn’t willing to talk about until now, 30 years later.
Another aspect that sets The Good Son apart is that Miller interviews Ji Wan, the son of Duk Koo Kim who was born months after his father died.
Through interviews from America to South Korea, the film shows how the tragic 1982 boxing match impacted the lives of everyone close to Kim and Mancini.
The climax of the documentary comes when Mancini and Ji Wan meet face-to-face for the first time in what Scorgie describes as one of the most emotional scenes in the film.
“That’s why I became a filmmaker,” said Scorgie.
“Those moments like that…we were all so nervous. Ji Wan was nervous, Ray was nervous, we were nervous to make sure we can capture it in a good way—we hired extra camera guys because we wanted to get every angle.”
For Miller, the entire process of making The Good Son was an “overwhelming” experience.
“I think Ray is an exceptional person,” said Miller.
“He has the ability to talk about (his life) and be introspective.”
Miller said the documentary is more of a human story than a boxing story.
“It’s a huge amount of closure for Ray and Ji Wan.
“Ray has tried to move on forever, but people don’t let him. I think when they see the film, it will help that element.”
The Good Son features interviews of long-time friends of Mancini, Ed O’Neill and Mickey Rourke, as well as other celebrities.
The project took a year-and-a-half and was completed last month. Discussions are currently happening with network executives to bring the documentary to TV in 2013.
Scorgie said audiences have given standing ovations at every premier Mancini has attended.
“When they see him after going through this journey with him, everybody wants to give Ray a hug after they watch it.”
Mancini will be in the Kelowna area Oct. 27 for the Canadian premiere of The Good Son at Landmark Cinemas in West Kelowna.
“I’m really excited about the Kelowna screening,” said Miller.
“People flock to Ray, so it’s going to be great.”
Scorgie added community sponsorship and support were vital in ensuring that the premiere could be held locally.
Tickets for the Oct. 27 West Kelowna premiere are $35 and include VIP access to the after-party at Cabana Bar and Grille. For more information or to buy tickets, visit facebook.com/events/504099406284002.